Arrive early and expect delays. It’s the airport after all, and sure enough, if you didn’t arrive early for the Runway 5k this year you very well may have missed the delays, and possibly even the entire race. The official starting time was supposed to be 8:00 a.m., but as 2,000+ runners crowded near the starting line at about 8:02 an announcement was made that the race would be delayed by 15 minutes. A little after 8:15 another announcement was made that there would be another 10-minute delay. Finally, at 8:28 a.m. the race began.
It wasn’t a huge problem for us. As we arrived at the race site at 6:45 there was already a long line of cars ahead of us. It was slow going, but we managed to make it to a parking space in only about 15 minutes. Apparently though, with each minute the traffic backup grew longer and longer, and I read one comment on Facebook saying that they arrived at the turn-off from Billy Graham Parkway at 7:15 and weren’t able to get parked until 8:45, and by then of course it was too late to get a timing chip and number and join the race.
To be fair, the volunteers working on the parking seemed to be doing their jobs quite well. I think it’s maybe just a logistics problem on getting so many cars into a small area that seldom sees any traffic to speak of. It was an improvement over previous years, but no doubt this is something the race directors will still need to work on if this race is to keep growing. This was the 4th annual Runway 5k and it has become one of the most popular races in Charlotte. In the first two years the race drew only 312 and 377 runners respectively. Then in 2009, largely by word-of-mouth, it became one of Charlotte’s most popular races, with 1,342 finishers. This year it more than doubled from 2009, with a total of 2,737 finishers. It’s a fun race and it’s just about as flat as a race can be. It’s kind of fun scurrying along the runway of a major airport with planes taking off and landing nearby, but those long stretches without any turns or landmarks to speak of can get a little boring too.
[Note: The results on the website changed on the day after the race and I didn't redo the graph, so it's a little off, but you get the idea.]
Since I began running in September 2008, this was the first race I have run three different times. Each year has been a little different. It’s a good race, but there’s definitely room for improvement. This year’s T-shirts were not quite as nice as the two previous years. The after-race food hasn’t really been great either year. This year’s bananas, apples, and sports drink were nothing to get excited about. I heard there were some muffins, but apparently not nearly enough as they were all gone before I saw them.
The awards were okay — fairly small trophies but pretty nice. They were almost identical to the trophies from 2008 and 2009 though. The first overall male and female winners won 2 plane tickets to anywhere in the U.S., which is great, but I’m pretty sure the other overall winners (2nd and 3rd place) only received the small trophies like the age group winners.
This year’s race was a Girls on the Run event and that added to the number of runners as well as the spectators (a lot of friends and family members come to watch and cheer for the girls). Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run International, who lives in Charlotte, helped present the awards and all of the award winners had their photo taken with her. Speaking of photos, once again the professional photography was provided by Ron Deshaies and his crew from Treasured Events of Charlotte. They always do an outstanding job with the photos.
7 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
6 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
3 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
4 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
8 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
2 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
8 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities (good job with the porta potties this year)