Hartsfield-Jackson prepares for return of 5K on the 5th Runway

Early on Oct. 16, 2,000 runners will file onto the the cleared fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to relaunch the Mayor’s 5K on the 5th Runway.

The six-year-old event was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ExploreAJC AccessAtlanta podcast: 5K on the 5th Runway

The airport calls it “one of the flattest — and fastest — courses in metro Atlanta.” As an AJC Peachtree Road Race qualifying event, it offers the opportunity for runners to score a good time, which allows them to be placed in an earlier starting wave for the Peachtree and push for a personal best.

The $1.2 billion, 9,000-foot runway sits isolated on the far south side of the airfield, offering runners some distance from the jets that will continue to take off and land on the other runways. The race route extends down the runway and a taxiway.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Registration costs $45 for a timed run and $40 for an untimed walk/run, with proceeds going to the Mayor’s Youth Scholarship Program and United Way of Greater Atlanta. Masks are required before and after the race.

The race starts at 6:30 a.m., and all participants must be off the runway by 7:30 a.m. for airport workers to do a sweep of the area and prepare for flights that will start landing again at around 8 a.m.

Officials plan to have a Delta Airbus A350 parked at the end of a taxiway nearby to allow race participants to take photos in front of the wide-body jet, along with selfies against the vast expanse of the airfield as the sun begins to rise at the end of the race.

“Most people have only seen this stuff from the window of the aircraft,” said Hartsfield-Jackson’s John Murphy, who works in airside operations and is handling preparations for the event. “People are fascinated by it.”