Runners to jet down Bishop Airport runway in first-of-its-kind 5K

FLINT, Michigan—In the past year alone, runners and walkers in Flint have been able to travel through some of the first planned neighborhoods in the United States, pass by sites integral to the creation of the American auto industry, finish a race at the 50-yard line of Atwood Stadium, and get an on-foot glimpse at one of the country’s only autonomous vehicle proving grounds on a college campus at Kettering University’s Mobility Research Center.

On Nov. 9, they’ll get another unique opportunity — to race on the runway at Bishop International Airport. 

This is the first race ever held at Bishop Airport and planning for the inaugural 5K on the Runway started about a year ago after some brainstorming between airport officials and the Crim Fitness Foundation. 

“It has been brewing for a little more than a year,” said Andy Younger, race director at the Crim Fitness Foundation. “We decided fall would be the best time to do it, because many runners already have their season under their belts and we didn’t want to compete with other races (during the busier part of the season).”

The 5K run and walk offers an appealing opportunity for both experienced runners and people who might be new to running or even looking to do their first race. 

“For experienced racers who have been training all season, this is a good opportunity for a P.R. (personal record) — the course is flat, there are relatively few turns, and Bishop keeps their runways pristine, so the times could be really fast,” Younger said. “And for someone trying their first race, this is a cool one because it’s less intimidating — there aren’t hills, or natural complications like bumps or potholes, or getting lost on the course.”

Response for the race already has exceeded expectations and the Crim expects about 800 participants on race day, which Younger called “mind blowing” for a first-time race. 

Brad Brown, owner of Complete Runner, said the races — especially those with unique approaches like 5K on the Runway — help show off the community.

“It’s a great chance to see what Flint is all about,” Brown said. “A lot of people might only know about Flint from what they see on TV or read in the news, but that’s not always a true reflection of the city. The courses in Flint showcase the history, the revival that’s happening, and even let people who live here see new things or areas of the city. It’s all really positive.”

5K on the Runway joins an extensive local lineup of races: The Crim Fitness Foundation offers its signature Crim Festival of Races with varying distances through downtown Flint as well as the Atwood Stadium Race through a partnership with Kettering University. Several other Flint races throughout the year — including the Civic Park’s new History on the Move — venture into historic neighborhoods all over the city. Wings of Mercy Runway 5K offers runners the opportunity to hit Linden’s smaller Price Airport in June, but this is the first at Bishop, Michigan’s third largest airport.

The course at Bishop Airport will be on the north/south runway, with the east/west runway still open for air traffic. Younger notes that a cool feature of the race will be the fact that planes will be landing and taking off close by. There will also be a kids run, planes on display from the local Civil Air Patrol, donuts from Donna’s Donuts, food trucks, and cider from local orchards. 

“I’d never even walked on a runway before,” Younger said. “It makes you feel very small. The main runway is about 250 feet wide. Saginaw Street is 60 feet wide, so it’s more than four Saginaw Streets.”

Brown said he has noticed a lot of people talking about the race at Complete Runner and within the broader running community.

“There’s a lot of buzz,” Brown said. “We are excited that the Crim is doing another unique, fun race and adding a cool event that will bring people to the area.”

Online registration closes on Nov. 7. In-person registration will be available at the Crim office, 452 Saginaw St., from noon-7 p.m. on Nov. 8. There is no onsite race-day registration due to airport security protocols. 

Race participants will receive a 5K on the Runway winter hat, but must register by Wednesday, Oct. 16, to guarantee one. 

Cost is $30 for the 5K run or walk and $5 for the kids race. The race starts for runners at 9 a.m. and 1 minute later for walkers. The kids race is at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s easy to take for granted, but we really have such cool terrain to run and walk in locally,” Younger said. “There’s ever-expanding non-motorized trails and pathways, and really cool options to take runners and walkers places they might not be able to go on an everyday basis.”

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