Rotary-sponsored race is a big hit with charity

A charter jet from Atlantic City delayed its landing by 20 minutes until the run was over.
VIENNA -- A charity footrace on the runway of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport has been declared a success by organizers, despite the irritation felt by passengers on a chartered DC-9 jet forced to delay its landing by 20 minutes until the five-kilometer run was over.
"If we had the opportunity, we will probably do it again," said Dennis Haines, secretary of the Port Authority Board, which runs the airport. "A public institution now and again tries to involve itself in some community activity."
More than 200 people turned out Saturday evening to race up and down the airport runway in an event sponsored by Youngstown Rotary. The airport was scheduled to be closed for two hours for the event, but re-opened 40 minutes early to land the Spirit Airlines charter from Atlantic City, which had been circling overhead, said Thomas Nolan, the airport director.
The pilot apparently did not see a notice the airport sent out warning of the runway closure, Nolan said.
"We can't take any blame for that," he said.
Variety of causes: The charity race grossed about $3,600 for the Youngstown Rotary, which will use the money to support a variety of causes, including a fund for a new playground at Harding Elementary School in Youngstown, said Debbie Corbi, Rotary president. The group had expected only about 50 runners.
"It was a big hit," she said of the race.
Reimbursed: The airport will be reimbursed for expenses, primarily employee overtime, resulting from the race, Nolan said.
The airport has about 20 chartered aircraft take-offs and landings each month, he said. It also offers regular weekday commercial service through Northwest Airlink and US Airways Express. US Airways intends to pull out of the airport Oct. 15.
Opportunity: For the runners, the race offered the rare opportunity to see the airport's runway -- the longest in Northeast Ohio -- from a unique vantage point, said Reid Dulberger, treasurer of the Port Authority Board . Leading up to the race, the board was careful to make sure that pilots and airlines knew the runway would be closed.
"This should not have been an inconvenience to anyone," he said.
A spokeswoman for Spirit Airlines, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said the company had no record of the matter.

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