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Hundreds fly at low altitude for airport 5K

Avalon Goddard ran a 5K race at Stafford Regional Airport in about 27 minutes—while pushing a baby stroller.

Her 9-month-old daughter, Devyn, who was seated in the stroller, was “totally calm” the whole way despite temperatures in the low 40s, she said.

“If you have a stroller, this is the place you want to be because it’s really nice, flat and smooth,” said Goddard, who lives in Woodbridge.

She and 431 other runners—several of whom pushed baby carriages—signed up for the first-ever “Runway Runaway,” which took place on a runway and taxiway at the Stafford County airport. The setting appealed to experienced and first-time runners alike, said race organizer Scott Huff.

“The fact that you’re able to run on airport property, on the actual runway and the taxiway, is very unique,” he said. “It’s a flat environment—the flattest race course in Stafford County is what we like to say.”

And no, participants didn’t have to dodge any airplanes. The Federal Aviation Administration approved a request to close the airport during the event, which required an emergency management plan.

Huff hopes to hold the race annually as a fundraiser for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s local chapter. The proceeds will go toward youth scholarships for an aviation summer camp in Oshkosh, Wis., said Huff, who is president of the local chapter.

Most runners left the airport cold but happy after the race. That includes the Baum clan, all of whom set personal records, or PRs in running lingo.

“I took three minutes off my time, so that’s pretty good,” said Julie Baum of Stafford, who participated with her husband, Jon, and their children, Priscilla, 16; Brenda, 15; and Nicole, 13.

Jon Baum placed third overall with a time of 17 minutes, 16 seconds. The rest of the family placed at least third in their age groups. “A lot of people are getting their PRs,” Jon Baum said.

Quincy Schmidt, who won the race with a time of 16 minutes, 56 seconds, said running straight ahead for such a long distance was a little different for him. Participants had to run to the end of the 5,000-foot runway and back before finishing up on the taxiway.

“It was pretty cool,” said Schmidt, 23, who lives in Fredericksburg and is a 2013 graduate of the University of Mary Washington, where he ran track. “The downside of it is you get wind in your face for like a mile, but I guess that’s good for airplanes taking off.”

Katie Sutton, 34, of St. Louis, who was the top female finisher with a time of 19 minutes, 35 seconds, decided to run the race while in town for a business trip. She said she’s coming off an injury and found the flat course appealing.

“How cool is that to run at an airport?” she said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402