Tarmac to Takeoff: A Blistering Hot Charity Run on Bangkok Airport’s New Runway 3

As the dawn broke last Sunday morning, 17th March 2024, I joined around 5000 runners for a charity run on Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport’s new Runway 3.

In July, 2024 the airport will open this 4 kilometre (2.4 mile) new runway for active use on the western part of the airport, the same side as the main warehouse and the current western runway. The two existing runways presently handle 60 plane movements an hour. When Runway Three opens, the capacity will jump to 94 planes an hour.

After some obligatory speeches, the 10km runners began their loop. Twenty minutes later, I joined the five-kilometre runners. Although my time was not a world record as I kept stopping to pose with taking off aeroplanes or following their progress into the air, the experience was surreal.

The combination of making history, stepping onto the runway before a plane touches it, watching and hearing the planes taking off and landing in the background, and enjoying the panoramic view of Suvarnabhumi Airport Airport in the early morning light added to the surreal experience. I was by far not the only one taking photos!

Despite the relentless weather, with temperatures sitting at 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) and 80% humidity making it feel like 34 degrees (94 Fahrenheit), I persevered. By the end of the run, my shirt was soaking wet! And that was just for the five kilometre event.

The Charity Run raised 5.5 million Thai baht (around $US150,000) for medical equipment for hospitals in remote areas of Thailand. ALL of the money paid for the application fee was donated to the cause. Airports of Thailand and sponsors covered the costs for the participants’ t-shirts, transportation, and organisational arrangements, including generous amounts of water en route, a participatory medal, a meal at the end of the race, and free follow-up photos.

Additionally, I took the opportunity to raise funds for cancer research through my efforts to run and walk 200 miles (330 km) in March, urging others to support my efforts through donations. (Your donation is welcomed too)

However, there were a few teething issues with the event. The race pack pick-up could have been better organised, and transportation to and from the event could have been a little smoother. Amusingly, the event started a little later than expected. This is a big deal in a location where the mercury starts quickly soaring after dawn. I kept expecting an announcement along the lines of “due to operational reasons, we are delayed by ten minutes. Please sit patiently while waiting for the [start] gate to open:”

a man taking a selfie with an airplane in the background

Participating in the 3rd Runway Suvarnabhumi Charity Run was not just a physical challenge but also a deeply fulfilling experience. It was a testament to the power of community coming together to support a worthy cause while enjoying the unique opportunity to run on an active airport runway. As I reflect on this once-in-a-lifetime event, I am grateful for the memories created and the meaningful impact we made on society.”

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