Photos by Asia Morris.
An estimated 1,400 joggers, sprinters, walkers and skippers jumped on the rare opportunity to Run the Runway at Long Beach Airport Tuesday afternoon. Some participants were nestled snugly in their strollers, their eyes barely open, oblivious to the fact that the next time they'd set foot on airplane territory with security's blessing may not be until they reach adulthood. An excited participant noted on the shuttle ride over that he took a half day off work just to attend.
After twenty years of use, runway 7L-25R needed new pavement, lighting, signage and draining. In September of 2013, LGB received their largest grant ever of $15.1 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make the runway operable again. Executive director, Bryant Francis, thanked the construction crews for working diligently to finish the project an impressive six weeks ahead of schedule.
Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo said, "It's really important that as a community airport we have the community present." She continued to boast the economic importance of LGB, with its over 43,000 jobs that support the entirety of its operations and the fact that the LGB and its surrounding businesses are responsible for six billion a year of economic impact.
The run started to the upbeat rock n' roll sound of the Long Beach band, MOVE, setting the raucous musical backdrop for those that set off straight from the gun and sprinted the entire mile to those that really relished their time on the runway with a leisurely stroll.
Angel Chung Cutno, a teacher in her first year at Intellectual Virtues Academy (IVA), said her students were, of course, more excited about an impromptu afternoon field trip than they were about having to run.
"Some of them said, 'I only run when I have to in P.E., I don't want to run otherwise,'" she said with a laugh, "but we took the big red double decker bus and I think that made the excitement increase for them."
Janet Watt, a parent at IVA, said the run was great and that the middle schoolers "all beat us back."
Dana Lowe, also with IVA, found that maybe the students were, in fact, excited to run, saying, "They were the first ones at the starting line and they were the first ones coming back. They all had big smiles on their faces, everybody was excited. It was a very fun, exciting event, a fun-filled day, great music, great people, a great community event."
Construction crews began work on 25R in February 2014 and dug up three feet of asphalt over the runway's 6,200-foot length, using 50 percent recycled asphalt to pave it anew. The renovation will add 30 years to the strip's life and relieve airport traffic on LGB's two other runways.