Home Uncategorized That One Time I Ran A 5K On An Airport Runway

That One Time I Ran A 5K On An Airport Runway

by Nellie

JFK Rotary Club 5k Recap


When my cousin told me that she signed up to run a 5k on a runway in JFK Airport, I was shocked at first, then terribly intrigued. I went home that night and signed up. Immediately a bunch of questions came into mind:

  1. Would I be on an actual runway?
  2. Would planes be flying above my head?
  3. Why on earth did I sign up to run 3 miles in JFK?!

My girlfriend Yonnie was also very intrigued when I told her what my plans were and she signed up too! So the three of us got up super early on Sunday morning, jumped in a cab (because public transportation would be a nightmare!) and we headed out on a semi cold morning and got ready to run. My goal for this race was anything Sub 42 minutes. I know for a fact that I am NOT a runner, I kinda hate it really, but something inside of my wants to conquer it so–here I am.

my girls <3

I have been running 3 miles a week for the past 8 weeks, no more no less. Its not quite as intense as C25k, but it worked for ME. I also know that running on a treadmill and running outside can’t be compared because when I am running on the treadmill and I stop, I end up in a very embarrassed heap of Nellie on the floor. When I run outside however, and stop, I’m okay. My challenge is not stopping–I have always run/walked races. Even that famous summer of 2007 when I ran 10 races and was at my peak of running, I still ran/walked all of my races.

When we got there there were a lot of folks gathered, so many different types of people, young, old, short, tall, novice, professional–everyone was represented. I even ran into the fabulous ladies of Black Girls Run! I consider myself an honorary member even though I don’t run weekly with the group, I am always meeting them at the races 🙂

race day tee!

We registered, checked our bags and began what seemed like the longest wait EVER. Not only were we super early but it was super cold outside, around 8 am they started loading up the hundreds of runners and carrying us 15 minutes away to the whole other side of the airport. Once we go there, the wind settled in and we waited 45 really cold minutes for the race to start. Since we were actually on the runway we were surrounded by landing planes (how cool is that?!).

going on the bus to the runway!

our view while waiting for the race to start

over 600 peeps in attendance!

My first goal of the race was to make it to  mile one. My girls are both much better runners than I so when we started, they took off! I however had my music as my running companion so I took my sweet time and started off with a jog.

I have to admit, it was a beautiful scene, running on an actual runway is actually pretty fun! Lots of people stopped to take pictures of landing planes, not me because I was focused!

I finally made it to mile one and felt OK. I hadn’t stopped and I was running around a 12 minute mile. Since I had made it this far, I dare dared myself to reach mile two. I’ll be honest once I hit mile two I knew that I had gone way beyond what I came to do. So I was ready to start walking.

Running is such a mental sport, right when you want to give up you take a couple more steps, then some more, and before I knew it I saw the finish line. I didn’t stop, as much as my legs wanted to, as much as my brain wanted to, my heart pushed me on. I finished at 37:38. (See below #662!) It was the first time I finished a 5k under 40 and it was the very first time I didn’t stop to walk.


Both of my girl finished in 31 minutes and overall it was a really fantastic race.  At the end we even did a Usain Bolt pose to celebrate.



What is the craziest race you have ever done? If you DO run races, do you prefer solo or with a group?

Would you ever run on a runway?!

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Hope April 18, 2013 - 8:48 am

That sounds like a great run. Way to go Nelly… exceeding your goal. I would definitely do a runway run…even with not bling. I like fun and interesting courses. On race days, I don’t mind running solo, but I also like company especially if they’re a little faster. Keeps me pushing myself. You ladies are too cute 🙂

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 8:56 pm

Thanks Hope! Yeah there was no bling. Is that for half marathons only? I hope to get some one day! 🙂

thedoseofreality April 18, 2013 - 10:11 am

So impressive Nellie! What a completely fun, totally awesome place to run a 5K! Love that idea! :)-The Dose Girls

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 8:57 pm

Thanks guys!

Tamara April 18, 2013 - 10:28 am

I’ve never run a race anywhere crazy, but this just made me smile because I met my husband at JFK Airport! Amid the insane bustle, true love bloomed. Anyway, you rock!

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 8:58 pm

awwwww I love that! JFK is a really busy place so that was SO meant to be!!

J o s e y April 18, 2013 - 11:00 am

Ugh. I keep trying and failing to get myself back into running. This sounds pretty cool though!

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 8:59 pm

I have been trying and failing for 5 years, finally something is starting to work!

Patty April 18, 2013 - 11:11 am

Congratulations! What a fun race and an awesome time 🙂

Jeanine April 18, 2013 - 11:50 am

Hi Nellie!!

Checking in – how are you? CONGRATS on the airport race, it sounded so unique and a little scary – to be running near to planes landing? Eeek,…I may have run off course right back home 🙂 (To Jamaica)

As for the Usain Bolt pose after – nothing is better, as we Jamaicans say “celebrate with “nuff posing!”

Congrats again!

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 9:03 pm

haha, the thought of it is pretty scary but the actual course was way out of any danger zones. I love that quote!! 😉

Joi April 18, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Nellie, I’m very happy and proud of you. Way to go not stopping. Pushit to the limit and surprise yourself. Such a good and inspirational post. Love the picture of you and the girls. Congrats to the three of you. The atmosphere was thrilling I’m sure. Yes, I’d participate just for that rush!

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 9:19 pm

Thanks Joi 🙂 Yes I definitely surprised myself, I was simply happy to make it to the first mile much less the entire race. The rush made it ALL worth it. The unbearably cold weather and all.

Andrea April 18, 2013 - 4:39 pm

Hilarious with the poses! LOL. I don’t know how you find the time to fit this all in. You are my SHERO! Seriously!

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Ha, thanks girl, its called creative planning, or a babysitting husband.

Faith April 18, 2013 - 6:52 pm

wow! I’m so impressed with you! You are really doing it!

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Thanks girl, i’m trying 🙂

Carli April 18, 2013 - 7:55 pm

Congrats! Congrats! It feels so good when you get past a running plateau. There is just nothing like it.

I’ve really only run one public race, the rest have been virtual. But I think it would be nice to have a group so you have someone to talk to while waiting. However, I’d never expect someone to stay with me since I’m a slower runner.

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 9:21 pm

Thank you its pretty amazing, it was such a rush! I’ve never run a virtual race before, I got to try that next.

Leslie April 18, 2013 - 9:56 pm

How memorable is that? Not only did you participate in a crazy unique race, but you also beat a personal best. GREAT JOB!

Nellie April 21, 2013 - 9:21 pm

It was pretty awesome Leslie, thanks!

Trice April 25, 2013 - 9:46 am

How cool! I would love to do a race like this!

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