New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing and Hancock Field to Host Runway 5 K on August 3

350 runners took part in the 2023 race. Seven MQ-9 Reapers flown by the 174th Attack Wing will mark the route of the race

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Runners cross the finish line during the 2023 Runway 5K on Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY.

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE -- (05/14/2024) (readMedia)-- Syracuse area runners are being invited to take part in a five K race on the Hancock International Airport Runway on Saturday Aug 3, alongside members of the New York Air National Guard.

The "Runway 5K" is being hosted by the New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing and presented by Syracuse Hancock International Airport.

The 2023 race attracted more than 350 runners from across the Central New York region.

Seven MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft flown by the 174th Attack Wing will be on display to guide the way to the finish line.

Arriving or departing aircraft will use the airport's secondary runway during the event.

Col. Brett Batick, deputy commander of the 174th Attack Wing, is one of many military members who ran last year's race.

"I know there are many 5ks in upstate New York but the one at the 174th Attack Wing is definitely the most unique. Running right down the main runway at Syracuse International Airport was a ton of fun last year and we had a great turnout," Batick said.

This year's race is capped at 1,000 runners and will feature numerous age categories for race participants. The age group awards will be 19 and under, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-80, and 80+ for males and females.

Runners who place in their age categories will not only receive medals but will also be given special military patches and challenge coins unique to the 174th Attack Wing.

The top overall male and female runners will be given custom designed MQ-9 model trophies, presented by 174th Attack Wing commander Col John O'Connor.

Staff Sgt. Miguel Rodriguez Peraza, the lead planner for this year's race, said he is looking forward to another successful event.

"We hope to make this event a tradition in which the community and service members come together to share the great experience of running on the Syracuse Airport runway," Rodriguez Peraza said.

The Runway 5K stands apart from other local races because it takes place on an actual runway and runners can see the entire course ahead of them.

At 9,000 feet, the Syracuse airport main runway is 1.7 miles long. A 5k race is 3.1 miles, a little less than a run down the length of the runway and back.

The race, hosted by the 174th Attack Wing and presented by Syracuse Hancock International Airport, will give members of the Syracuse area the opportunity to run on the runway for a unique experience.

Another exclusive feature of the race, in addition to running on the tarmac, is that it begins and ends on a military installation, surrounded by both commercial and military aircraft. This gives the participants a special sneak peek behind the scenes of an Air National Guard base.

"It's a great showcase of what this hometown Air National Guard unit has to offer," said Batick. "We're looking forward to an even bigger turnout this year.

All racers will receive t-shirts as part of the registration package. This year's shirts will be teal for military members and mint green for civilians.

Although weather is a factor in any race, it presents a unique challenge to the Runway 5K. Because one of the runways will be used for the race, a great deal of coordination is required to successfully execute the race while keeping the airfield open and operational. If the weather is bad on race day, alternate routes will be used to ensure the run can go on without any impact to airport operations.

"Every year we look forward to giving local athletes the opportunity to safely run on an active airfield," said Syracuse Regional Airport Authority Customer Experience Manager Matt Szwejbka.

"Feeling the rumble of an aircraft taking off while running on a nearby section of the airfield will certainly put a little extra pep in your step! It's truly a unique experience."

The Runway 5K is a community event designed to bring the public together with the military community and highlight the presence of the wing. As citizen Airmen in the Air National Guard, the majority of 174th Attack Wing members serve part-time while holding full-time jobs or going to school. They rely on the local community for all aspects of life, from housing to medical care and everything in between.

Air National Guard units also help the local community as needed during domestic operations such as responses to natural disasters like snowstorms and flooding.