February 07, 2024

Photo Essay: Fueled By Jet Fumes and Fear of Missing Out at Ontario Airport

Many years ago, back when I was living in NYC, I got up at the crack of dawn one morning to go spectate as Edith ran a race on the runways of JFK Airport.
decommissioned Boeing 727

I wasn't a runner back then—and I'm still not—but I thought to myself, if I were to ever do a race, I think I'd like to do one on an airport runway. 

Well, my time came this past weekend, as I arrived to the National Guard Hangar at Ontario International Airport (ONT) in Southern California's Inland Empire for its "5K the Runway" event. 

The hangar, part of the 1950s-era Army air field that was adjacent to the then-Ontario Municipal Airport, was decommissioned in 1995 and is now used for film shoots and community events like this one. 

I was feeling a little nervous, having rolled my ankle and sprained my foot about a month ago—but fortunately I'd only signed up for the 1-mile "Family Walk."

Even better, there were ONT therapy dogs—part of the "Paw Squad"—like Luna the Maltipoo...

...and Violet Rose the Basset Hound...

...who loves belly rubs and doesn't care if the ground is wet. 

The weather held up for the event—despite having been scheduled in the middle of an epic, record-breaking rainstorm that had been soaking SoCal. 

The rain-or-shine event was sold out—but I wondered if anybody would actually brave the treat of rain to show up. Plenty did, though—including the mascot for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes baseball team, After Shock.

The 5K runners (there wasn't enough time for walkers) set off first, and then the rest of us slowpokes ambled over to the starting line around 9 a.m.

I was taking it slow—not exactly flying down the runway—but then again, I was really just there for the scenery, and the exclusivity of being on the runway, on foot. 

There was a certain amount of list-checking involved, too, as I'd already toured or been to open houses at Santa Monica Airport, Long Beach Airport (in fact, twice), Van Nuys Airport, Santa Paula Airport, and LAX. I flew out of ONT's Terminal 4 in 2009 but I don't remember a thing about it and don't have any photographs from back then. 

The walk was flat and not exactly strenuous for the average person (especially an un-injured one)—but regardless, cheerleaders encouraged us along the way. 

I'm not sure if the fire trucks periodically parked were for display or in case of an actual emergency. 

I'm not sure if it was runways or jetways that we walked past, with the snow-capped San Bernardino mountains in the distance...

...but we did get to see a commercial jet or two take off from one of the longest runways in SoCal, measuring 12,197 feet in length.

We passed the Guardian Jet Center, an FBO facility for private jets that also helps the military with troop movements...

...and circled back to the guard hangar, the sky increasingly ominous. 

But we weren't done yet, because the full one-mile loop included a spur path...
...heading around the backside of the Southwest Airlines jet that was parked there for display...

......and then finally back where we started...

...where I finished at a slow pace of 27 minutes (compared to my usual 20-minute mile).   
But hey, I got my medal just like anybody else. And I got home before it started to rain again.

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