Frederick, Md - For more than a year, the Frederick Municipal Airport, AOPA organization and the Frederick Police Department have been collaborating to bring the first-ever 5K on the Runway event to help benefit Special Olympics Maryland.
"What we're seeing here is a first. This is the first time that we've closed KFDK, our airport here, for a non-aviation event," explained aviation events planner for AOPA, Mike Woods.
More than 200 runners gathered at the AOPA hangar to register and warm up for the run alongside a line of airplanes on display.
"It’s a lot of fun when you come here and you can actually walk up to an airplane and touch it, versus just seeing it. There were airplanes...flying overhead, there was a helicopter that just flew over, so it's very exciting," explained 5K on the Runway runner, Joe Burke.
Airport officials went through a formal process with the Federal Aviation Administration at least six months ago to gain permission to halt flights and make the entire runway available for the run.
"The main runway itself is 5,220 feet long by 100 feet wide, the alternate runway is 3,600 feet long and 75 feet wide. We allow them full access, go run up and down the taxi-ways, the runway, kind of give them the experience out here," said Frederick Municipal Airport Manager, Rick Johnson.
Participants say running along the runway is a different experience given the entirely flat surface and lack of uphill or downhill routes.
"It’s a little bit of an easier run, but you're running either with the wind or against the wind. So either you're going to slow down a little bit, or you're going to get a little bit extra boost from the wind behind you," Burke explained.
Runners in today's event paid about $30 to participate and those fund will go towards the more than 7,000 Special Olympic athletes in the state.
"It’s just a great way to tell our story about the amazing athletes we have here. The opportunities for them to compete and really get involved in the community. And really build an inclusive community of dignity and respect for our athletes," said chief development and marketing officer for Special Olympics Maryland, Nate Garland.
The Frederick 5K on the Runway event raised over $7,000 dollars for Special Olympics Maryland.