For some time, I have been interested in what some may see as a slightly unusual run; inside London Heathrow airport Terminal 5. My motivation comes from spending way too much time in airports, and Ben Edelman, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School, and author of guidance for running in and around airports.
On the morning of 14th March, I had my chance. I arrived in Heathrow’s Terminal 5A, from Newcastle. My next flight (to Madrid) was also due to leave from Terminal 5, so having already cleared security at Newcastle, I headed to BA’s North Galleries lounge. Perhaps fortunately for this adventure, I still have lounge access – there are changing facilities, you can leave your bag and, instead of a pre-flight G&T.…go for a run!
I struggled to get a GPS signal initially but the Strava app on my iPhone seemed to cope with a combination of GPS, cellular, and Wifi positioning. I headed down the escalator to follow the signs for the transit to the B and C gates. There I took the lift down to level -4, leaving most passengers to alight at -2 which is the train platform.
The main feature of this run is an underground pedestrian tunnel linking Heathrow’s Terminal 5A to the satellite buildings which house the B and C gates. The tunnel is some 670m in length between T5A and T5C, according to Bombardier who supplied the automated people mover system (trains which run above the pedestrian tunnel).
The tunnel has apparently been recently renovated to add a softer floor, and purple lighting – welcoming to a travelling Strider! There are various moving walkways along the way, but also space aplenty to run. There are a couple of narrower sections, which makes life slightly interesting to share the tunnel with a passing passenger cart, and there is a slight incline between the B and C gate section.
There aren’t many users of the tunnel – mainly air crew, the odd passenger, and it is fairly cool. At the final approach to the C gates, a traffic light controlled door allows safe passage of pedestrians and carts.
I headed along the tunnel, to pass the B gates, then on to the C gates, where I got in the lift and up to the satellite building. I ran around the satellite building, which was nearly empty. A member of BA gate staff stopped me to ask what flight I was on, and she was tickled when I explained, “Madrid, but I’m just out for a run first”!
I ran the loop from T5A to T5C, including the loop of T5C satellite building twice, before doing a 1km loop of T5A, returning to the North lounge to shower and collect my things. An interesting experience of some 5.7km which left me refreshed for my onward flight! If you have time in Heathrow, try it!