CULLMAN – On the late evening of Friday, or depending how you look at it, the early morning of Saturday, nearly 1,200 people began sprinting, jogging and walking around downtown Cullman.
It was Eva Bank’s Annual Midnight Run, and the turnout was as good as ever, with about 650 registered runners and 500 unregistered runners. And at the post-5K reception in the Cullman County Civic Center, nearly 2,000 people gathered.
The race, which brings highly competitive runners, as well as 9-year-old boys and girls just running for fun, is a fantastic event in Cullman. “Partially,” says participant Danny Williams, “because of the friendly nature of it all.”
“This is about my eighth time running in the Midnight Run,” Williams said. “This is the third time for my little daughter Mallie.” Williams said he and his daughter run in 3-4 5Ks a year, and he alone competes in 3-4 obstacle courses a year, as well as a single half-marathon per year.
But, what keeps Williams coming back to the Midnight Run is the community atmosphere, he says.
“You’ll see people here that you haven’t seen all year. The whole thing, running at midnight, and all is really neat to me,” Williams continued. “And I love the family friendly atmosphere,” he gestured to his wife and daughter and a family friend he had brought along to introduce him to his first Midnight Run.
While Danny nor his daughter Mallie were able to place in any of their respective age groups, he’s okay with that, for when I wished him luck during our pre-race interview, he said, “Oh, it’s okay, we’re just finishers.”
The overall female winner was Elena Linn, who won $250 for being the top female runner, but also broke the previous record with an impressive time of 17 minutes and 21 seconds, which earned her an extra $100. The masters female winner was Shannon Barnett, raking in $200 with a time of 23 minutes and 29 seconds.
The overall male winner was Austin Duckworth, a 25-year-old who won the $250 for being the number one male in the race with a blistering time of 15 minutes and 43 seconds. The masters male winner was Eric Fillinger, with a time of 18 minutes and 20 seconds.
While the Midnight Run is sponsored by Eva Bank, it is a Cullman Parks & Recreation event, and a large profit of the event has yet to be allocated into specific funds, while it is likely that the money will go towards the Community Playgrounds Project.
If you’d like more information and all the individual age group winners, check out www.CullmanRecreation.org.