Dulles Day on the Runway 10K Race Recap

A very much delayed recap of the Dulles Day on the Runway 10K! This is a not-very-well-publicized, very cool DC area race – worth the drive from NC to DC! Plus we got to hang out with my brother Matt over the weekend.
We ran this race last year and loved it. From the unique experience of running on an airport runway to short portapotty lines to great t-shirts, we were impressed with the race itself and the well-run logistics before and after.

Mike had been monitoring Potomac River Running’s website in the months leading up to the race to be sure we signed up early and were guaranteed a shirt. This race fills up fast!

We arrived at the Udvar-Hazy Center at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning (love Saturday races!). Last year, since we were picking up our packets the morning of the race, we arrived VERY early and were probably the first ones there. Realizing it’s not necessary to get there that early, we enjoyed a few more minutes of sleep and arrived around the same time as most of the other runners.

You enter through Udvar-Hazy, which is a pretty dramatic entrance. The museum doesn’t fully open but you can see some of the planes close up as you snake your way through and out the other side of the facility to the runway.

The line for bib and t-shirt pick-up probably took about 3 minutes to get through. I wear my t-shirt from last year all the time since it’s super-soft women’s fit Gildan Performance rather than a tech tee. I was happy to see this year’s was the same, with a slightly new design and in red! I still think the design could be cooler for such a unique race.
We checked our shirts in a free United bag. Bag check is fast and easy! Although the portapotties rarely had much of a line last year, the area around them got crowded with other runners; they were set up facing towards the packet pickup and bag drop areas, which was also the only walkway (besides walking on grass). This year, the organizers improved upon the layout by facing the portapotties the other direction.

Portapotty set-up improvement

Portapotty set-up improvement

Even after arriving at 6:30, picking up packets, checking bags, and using the bathroom, we still had time to kill until the 7:30 AM start. Two women came up to me, having recognized me from my blog! They said they were looking for reviews of the race and found my post – cool!
Beautiful sunrise, pre-race

Beautiful sunrise, pre-race

The 5K runners started about 5 minutes before and a little bit in front of the 10K runners. I must have untied and retied my sneakers 10 times. I’ve been experiencing self-inflicted extensor tendinitis. I tie my sneakers too tight sometimes. I love my new Newton sneakers but the laces are short so in order to double knot them, I’ve been tying them a bit tighter. Oops. I should probably just order longer laces. I tried to tie them as loose as possible for the 10K.

I’ve been looking forward to running a 10K – such a great distance! Last year, we had more to run after the race to hit our marathon training mileage, so I held back on speed. This year, I planned to push myself and hopefully PR! My only concern was my left foot.

The race begins on a wide access road to the runway. Spectators can line up only along a portion of the access road, so we were quickly on our own. I do miss the crowd support but understand it’s not really a possibility for this race. Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 5.12.43 PM
After about 0.75 miles, we entered the runway where a commercial airliner was placed right along the route. Many people stop and get photos here but there’s plenty of room to run by them. With 5K and 10K options and being stroller friendly, the race attracts many families but also very fast runners attracted to the fast course. Last year, we got incredible photos along this stretch of the course, with the plane in the background. Where was the photographer this year?? It’s tough to complain when the photos are made available on Flickr for free downloads. So unfortunately none of us had cool plane photos like last year (see 2014 photo below).

2014 Dulles race

2014 Dulles race

10K runners run alongside 5K runners/walkers for a short ways until 5K’ers turn off to loop back to the start/finish. The “course” quickly thins. Runners seemed much faster this year compared to last. Last year there were only a few women in front of me, who I could clearly see. This year, the leaders were way off in the distance – and I was running faster than last year! I wasn’t sure if I’d place this year with such competition. I was feeling pretty good despite not having pushed myself so hard for some time. However, once we hit the 3 mile mark and turned to head back – the one turn of the course – I started to lose some steam.
Only photo of Mike from this year's race

Only photo of Mike from this year’s race

Matt's one of the most photogenic runners

Matt’s one of the most photogenic runners

We were running straight into the wind for the entire second half of the race. The course had thinned so much at this point that there weren’t any runners close around me. To motivate myself, I often try to push ahead of the person in front of me, making, especially the final stretch, into a game. But this time, the person in front of me was way in front of me and the person behind me was pretty far behind me. I was tempted to slow down and settle into a comfortable pace. It was hard staying motivated to push myself to the finish! The top of my foot also started to hurt but I knew I didn’t have much farther to go.Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 5.11.57 PM

The volunteers at the water stops at miles 3 and 5 were fantastic – full of energy and support! I tried to soak in as much of their encouragement as I could as I ran past.

I felt like I was running close to what my pace had been for the first half. But the wind really slowed me down. Still, I knew I would PR, which was my overall goal! I tried to suppress the thought that I could slow down a bit and still PR, and instead dig deep for the final stretch. I couldn’t wait for the great crowd support leading up to the finish line! We rejoined the 5K walkers and they also were cheering on the 10K runners beside them.

Finish Line

Finish Line

I saw Mike right when I finished and we lined up at the finish line to watch Matt finish shortly behind me. My foot was killing me and I was limping the rest of the day (currently taking a break from running to allow the tendinitis to heal). IMG_5880The food was the same as last year, sponsored by Marriott: Nature Valley bars and bananas (may have had more options that I didn’t see). Although my stomach felt fine, I knew I should probably take Immodium just in case. Sometimes when I run fast, my stomach cramps afterwards. We sat down, well I sat down, while Mike checked the results. I came in 2nd in my age group and Mike came in 3rd for his age group (unfortunately, awards just for top two)! I was pretty surprised I had placed!IMG_5883 We relaxed until the award ceremonies. It’s worth noting that the DJ for this race is excellent.IMG_5885After the 5K awards, 10K awards were given. I got a $15 gift certificate to Potomac River Running, a local chain of running stores that sponsored the race. It was pretty fun to walk up on the flatbed stage!IMG_5886


We walked through Udvar-Hazy to get back to the parking lot — so many great photo opportunities!IMG_5900IMG_5901IMG_5904IMG_5905
We went to McDonald’s hoping for free iced coffees again. Unfortunately there were no freebies but it was still nice to get a sugary iced coffee right after the race. It’s hard to believe that last year we drove to the bike trail and ran another 11 miles! IMG_5907
We went to Potomac River Running to use my gift certificate. And then went straight to Cafe Rio for lunch. How I miss Cafe Rio! Please open in North Carolina! IMG_5911



  1. David Kruczlnicki · · Reply

    A great blog. The pictures were especially enjoyable. Congratulations on your 2nd place finish!

  2. Kathleen! What a great post – so many great things to comment on! Have you heard of Lock Lace? They’re like bungee cord shoe laces and you cut them to the length that works best for you. I have hot pink 🙂 Jeff and I swear by them – you should give them a try (and never “tie” your shoes again!). The race looks like a blast – what a cool concept running on the tarmac past all the planes! I would love to do this race! Great tees too – they look so soft! Congrats on placing, that’s so exciting! You were crazy fast! Congrats to Mike too – 3rd place is still quite an accomplishment. How cool that someone recognized you from the blog! You’re famous 🙂

    1. Thanks Marie!! I’ll check out those laces. Sounds like that could be a good fix! In the meantime, I’m going to tie my laces VERY loose!

  3. […] the Greenway with Mike (and now with William!). We’re all looking forward to running the Dulles Day on the Runway 10K/5K next month! I signed up for the 10K but am thinking the 5K will be challenging enough, especially […]

  4. […] safe to say this is my favorite race. We’ve run it the past three years (2014 recap, 2015 recap), even driving up to DC from NC this year and last! It’s worth it. This year, William joined […]

  5. […] won’t go into detail on the race itself since you can read my recaps from 2014, 2015 and 2016 . Last year, I ran the 5K pushing William, and the 5K was the perfect distance at that […]

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