'Runway 5K' Event Invites Syracuse-Area Runners to Hancock Int'l. Airport
Syracuse area runners are invited to participate in the annual 'Runway 5K' event, hosted by the New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing in collaboration with Hancock Field International Airport.
The event is set to take place on the Hancock International Airport's main runway on Sat., Sep. 9, 2023. Participants will have the special privilege of running alongside members of the New York Air National Guard, adding a unique element to the traditional 5K race.
The course covers a distance of 3.1 miles, a slightly shorter stretch than the runway itself, which is 9,000 feet. Notably, participants will share their route with two MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, emblematic of the 174th Attack Wing.
One notable aspect of the 'Runway 5K' is its commencement and conclusion within a military installation, set against the backdrop of commercial and military aircraft. This unique setting offers participants an uncommon glimpse into the workings of an Air National Guard base.
Last year's event in 2022, had a turnout of 402 runners from the greater Syracuse area. The 2023 edition is expected to host a maximum of 1,000 runners, with expanded age categories for participants to provide increased opportunities for recognition.
This year, the event is said to introduce an array of age categories for both male and female runners, ranging from 19 and under to 80 and above. Winners within these categories will not only receive medals, but also special military patches and challenge coins unique to the 174th Attack Wing.
Colonel John O'Connor, commander of the 174th Attack Wing and an avid runner himself, expressed his enthusiasm for both hosting and participating in this year's race.
"As a runner, I'm always seeking novel and exhilarating running locations," O'Connor shared, highlighting the distinctive appeal of the 'Runway 5K' as a physically rewarding challenge.
Top male and female runners will be honored with custom-made MQ-9 model trophies, personally presented by Colonel O'Connor. Staff Sergeant Colin Kistner, the lead planner for the inaugural 5K and co-lead for this year's event, expressed his eagerness for another successful gathering. "We're delighted to bring back the event for this year and the years to come," Kistner affirmed.
Senior Airman Miguel Rodriguez Peraza's enthusiasm for last year's race led him to take a more active role in co-leading this year's event alongside Kistner. "Running the inaugural 174th Attack Wing Runway 5K was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Rodriguez Peraza said.
"Whether it's achieving a personal best or simply enjoying an invigorating workout, the opportunity to run on an airfield alongside arriving and departing aircraft is bound to be a truly memorable encounter," said Syracuse Regional Airport Authority Customer Experience Manager Matt Szwejbka.
'Runway 5K' event organizers say the activity represents more than just a race; it stands as a symbol of unity, community engagement, and an opportunity for runners to tread upon the same runway as the aircraft that serve their nation.