After a 2-year hiatus, runners return to TPA runway, raise money for charity

It was an unusual sight at Tampa International Airport Saturday morning as people, not planes, lined the tarmac and took off down the runway. 

Two thousand runners gathered Saturday morning at Tampa International Airport for the 8th annual "5K on the Runway," benefitting the United Way Suncoast.

This year’s race raised $83,000 for the organization and about $500,000 for the United Way Suncoast to date.

"One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the United Way Suncoast and that helps with early childhood literacy, youth success, financial stability, helping those in our community that need it the most," said Kari Goetz, with the United Way Suncoast.

Runners began on the taxiway and ran 3.1 miles on runway 10-28, which is the east and west-facing runway at TPA.

"There was a moment when we were out on the runway, it was probably somewhere around mile 1 and Southwest took off, and you’re like, well that doesn’t happen on every race," Goetz shared. "It is an absolutely tremendous opportunity. We get to celebrate this incredible community, how much they support us. Obviously, we are so fortunate and lucky to have this opportunity and everybody should do this race, whether you run or walk, just to be out here and the planes, it’s so much fun."

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It’s a unique experience, all for a great cause.

"It’s fun. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do, these odd, kind of outlying runs that you don’t get to do, or run on a trail, you get to run on a runway, how cool is that," said John Burns, who participated in the race.

Airport managers say it is the least-utilized runway, so the event did not have any impact on the morning’s flight schedules.

Click here for more information about TPA. To learn more about the United Way Suncoast, click here.