5 Airports Where You Can Actually Race on the Runway

From Budapest to New York, these airport races are anything but ordinary

Destination races, classic marathons, themed 5ks, the list goes on—when runners are looking to sign up for a race they have no shortage of options. That’s why race organizers are always trying to think outside of the box, or in this case, outside the cockpit. As strange races go it’s tough to beat the novelty that comes with literally running on the runway and it seems airports all over the world are open to hosting these incredible runs.

Well attended by runners for the thrill and the flat surface that allows them to run quickly, these races are gaining popularity. With more than 20 airports in the world hosting runway races, we highlighted five specific races that have generated some buzz.

John F. Kennedy International Airport

Photo of runners at JFK International Airport. Photo taken by Mark Szemberski.

Open to all types of runners, from seasoned pros to beginners, JFK International opens its busy main runway for a truly unique charity event. Instead of planes landing and taking off, for a few hours on a Sunday morning people will be pounding the pavement at top speed. The runway race is organized by the JFK rotary club and in the past the race has had about 1,500 runners. Though competitive runners are welcome, some people come just for the one-of-a-kind chance to walk the runway.

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport
In 2013 Budapest airport set itself apart from the rest of Europe when they hosted a special half marathon on their runway. More than 250 runners were invited to participate in one of the flattest, fastest races around, while airplanes were directed to take off and land on the second runway. The funds raised went to help fund sports and activities of college students in need.

Scottsdale Municipal Airport
Scottsdale celebrates spring with three types of runway races—a 10k run, 5k walk/run and a 1 mile Mascot Dash for the kids. Complete with awards for fastest time, these runway races benefit Playworks Arizona, the only nonprofit in the country to send trained and qualified coaches to low-income schools where they take recess to a whole new level of fun.

Washington Dulles International Airport
This popular runway run grew to host both a 5k and 10k race this past year and now sets a limit of 2,500 runners. Even the gigantic runway isn’t big enough for the many who want to participate in The Dulles Day 5K and 10k. The proceeds from this race benefit local nonprofits like the Special Olympics Virginia and the Washington Airports Task Force.

Wittman Regional Airport

Image from eaa.org.

This Wisconsin airport may not see as much air traffic as the bigger international airports, but it does see some notable foot traffic during the EAA Runway 5K. This year’s race will be held on July 25 and is open to runners of all ages and abilities. Funds from the race will benefit a local charity called Clarity Care, which helps those with disabilities and special needs.