A Chat with Marathoner and Delta CEO, Ed Bastian

Written by Charlie

Find out about a marathoner that you may already know of in a different capacity – Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Air Lines. Here is a chat we did with him to find out about his upcoming NYC marathon and his reasons for running.

In just a few days, over 50,000 runners will take to the streets to run the 5 boroughs of New York City in the incredibly popular event known as the New York City Marathon. This is definitely not the fastest but runners flock to this course for the amazing journey it takes them through one of the greatest cities.

A Chat with Marathoner and Delta CEO, Ed Bastian

Link: Support Ed for Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research

marathoner Ed Bastian

Ed Bastian, at the recent Delta Scholarship Fund 5K, with Gareth Joyce, the SVP of ACS and Cargo | Courtesy of Delta

Ed Bastian, Marathon Runner and Delta CEO

One of those 50,000 runners will be previous NYC marathoner Ed Bastian. You may not know him in that way, but you probably do know of him. That is because he is also the Delta CEO since May of 2016. He ran his first NYC marathon in 2014 so this will be his first time back there again as the Delta CEO.

After catching a Delta post about his recent run with Delta employees, I had to reach out to ask him some questions about his upcoming NYC marathon effort and some things about his running. If you would like to help with his fundraising efforts for the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, click here. He is already past his $1 million goal but it would be great to pump it up some more!

I love it when people that head up programs or companies that we use for travel are into running (see this previous chat with former Hyatt VP, Jeff Zidell). Running is something that can always be a nice way to bond with others, even when we really don’t know them. Hopefully, you will enjoy this chat with Ed and that you will root for him this coming Sunday in the NYC Marathon!

Q: What led you to run another marathon 4 years later? I saw in another article that you had said you doubted you would do it again.

 After running in support of Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research in 2014, I got to know an inspiring young woman named Grace Bunke, a high school freshman and Paralympic athlete, who was battling Osteosarcoma – the same cancer my younger brother survived as a child. Grace’s fearless spirit and selfless mission to help others, despite her own struggle, moved me deeply. Shortly before we lost Grace in March, I shared with her my plans to run the marathon in her honor and pledged to her I would raise $1 million for Rally Foundation, although my hope is to raise much more so critical research, better treatments and ultimately, cures, can be found.

Q: With such a busy schedule, how do you get your training runs in? Do you try to train at the same time every day or you just take the opportunities when they come?

Being Delta’s CEO is a 24/7 job, so finding the time to train hasn’t been easy. I do most of myshorter runs during the week, many times in the morning before heading to the office, and then on the weekends will conquer the longer ones. The times vary, depending on what I have going on that day.

Q: Being the CEO of an airline, I know that you have traveled to many cities around the world. What are some of your favorite cities to run in and do you have an absolute favorite route?

I do travel quite a bit and have the opportunity to run in cities worldwide, which I enjoy. It’shard to name a favorite, but I love Paris and did one of my long training runs there just a few weeks ago. And of course, I got as many runs in Central Park as possible.

Q: Do you prefer training by yourself or with other runners? I enjoyed reading the piece about your joining Delta employees for the 5K run – I am sure that was enjoyable for all of you! I know running with others can be helpful and certainly engaging but I know that I also prefer to have some runs on my own to help clear my head and work on some ideas.

Like you, I enjoy both. I thrive off of other people’s energy, so running with a group keeps me motivated and invigorated, especially if it’s with members of my Delta family. That’s one of thegreat things about marathons – there are millions of people cheering you on to the finish, keeping you excited and in the right headspace. I also enjoy training solo, too, because it allows me to clear my head without any distractions competing for my attention.

Q: What are your favorite stretches post-flight? Do you ever go for a run right after getting off a plane?

Most of the time I’m traveling for work, so unfortunately I end up going straight to meetings or events versus getting the opportunity to run.

Q: What is the one meal/food that you cannot wait to have after your NYC Marathon?

Chocolate milk. It’s the only thing I know that will settle my stomach.

Q: I love that you are doing this as a charity run and that you raised so much for them in the last marathon. There are many 5K races that take place around the US on runways – would you ever consider mixing the two passions by having some Delta sponsored/backed 5K event that would take place on a runway and be a charity event as well? Or something similar that would mix aviation with running and charity?

While we haven’t hosted a runway race of our own, Delta sponsors the annual Mayor’s 5K on the 5th Runway in Atlanta each year, which benefits the Mayor’s Youth Scholarship Program. We also host our annual Delta Care and Scholarship Fund 5K near our headquarters, which provides educational scholarships worldwide to Delta people and their families. It’s not on the runway,but you’re near the airport.

Q: If you were to just pick one right now, what would be another marathon you would like to try?

I’ve always thought the Boston Marathon would be an exciting one to take on, as it’s the oldest annual marathon in the world. One of the best parts of running a marathon is the course typically navigates through the heart of the city, and Boston is a beautiful, historic one that I always enjoy exploring.

Q: What things do you use during your runs or for the marathon (music, energy gels, GPS watch, water/power drinks, lemons/oranges/bananas)?

I like to listen to music, so I always have my headphones in when running and my GPS watch to track my pace, distance and time. And energy gels for the long runs.

Q:  Lastly, what is your favorite part of running?

I enjoy the freedom running gives me to decompress and disconnect. Long runs totally empty my mind. No matter if you’re a CEO or an intern, it’s important to take time for yourself and beintentional in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Running enables me to do this, whilekeeping my mind sharp and energy high. There’s also a satisfaction in the challenge it brings. When you hit a wall and can’t fathom running another step, it’s amazing when you find the strength to go one more mile, proving to yourself you are much stronger than you ever thoughtpossible. It’s a rewarding feeling.

Thanks and Good Luck in NYC, Ed!

Thanks so much, Ed, for taking the time to answer these questions! I think it is great to see how much he has been able to raise for charity and I know we will be pulling for him to have a great race this Sunday!

marathoner ed bastian


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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.