St Helena Airport’s First Runway Dash
The World’s Most Expensive Running Track | Sharon Henry
St Helena Airport was shaken from its stupor this Bank Holiday Monday when the £285m runway was temporarily transformed into a running track – probably becoming one of the most expensive in the world.
This was another ‘first’ the for the new St Helena airport when 105 people took to the starting line eager to make history, participating in the island’s inaugural ‘Runway Dash.’
The runway dash is a race to the end and back of an airstrip, an event inspired by neighbouring Ascension Island who have been doing this for years.
The rules were simple; no walking on the gravel, stay on the concrete and in the event of wind shear, adopt the foetal position!
Cleared for Take-Off
The wind shear reference, if you don’t already know, throws a little humour to the cause of the airport’s delayed commercial operations. Dangerous wind conditions were discovered during flight trials earlier this year and solutions to solve the problem are ongoing. The airport is, however, open to small aircraft.
The overcast sky, cool temperatures and moderate breeze made conditions perfect for running and the serious competitors, keen to set initial records limbered up before the race. People of all ages, abilities and attire took part, ranging from Lycra tights to denim jeans.
It must have looked a peculiar sight from the control tower; a throng of people strung along the 1650m (1.02 miles) runway. Fitness levels fast became apparent and it seemed in no time the front runners were whizzing by us stragglers on their return ‘dash’ for the finishing line.
It felt incredible to be walking in a space intended only for airplanes, even to have fresh appreciation for the panoramic views of Great Stone Top, Levelwood, The Barn and Prosperous Bay House. Such amazing scenery to greet air travellers when they eventually arrive. Black skid marks were evidence that the runway has been put to proper use although it’s still just a lucky few who have already been treated to landing on St Helena.
The Runway Dash is proposed to be an annual event; today is hopefully the start of many. Along with the fun factor a do-good element was added as funds raised in sponsorships (estimated to be £2,000) will be used towards travel costs for a St Helena team to attend the Natwest Small Island Games in Gotland, Sweden, next year.
I wonder how many other airports hold these types of events?
Winners of Runway Dash 2016:
Men-Martin Collins 11m 19s
Women-Megan Vass 13m 46s
PAS Boy-Scott George 12m 30s PAS Girl-Danielle Fowler 18m
Primary School-Aiden Yon-Stevens 15m 14s