It was a power couple that swept the race at Friday night’s 20th annual Eva Bank Midnight Run 5K.
Jake Kidd and Elena Linn came to Cullman from Birmingham to participate in their first Midnight Run and each took first place in their overall category. The two have been dating for about three months now.
As the Overall Male winner, Kidd had a time of 16:07, keeping a pace of 5:11 per mile. Linn was the Overall Female winner and placed eighth overall, finishing at 18:29, just less than six minutes per mile.
Once Linn crossed the finish line, Kidd was there waiting for her to give her a hug.
Kidd had about a minute-and-a-half lead over the second-place finisher, Clay Oden, who crossed the finish line at 17:44. On his heels was St. Bernard’s Will Faulk at 17:48.
The second woman to cross was Catherine Greenwell with a time of 20:33, which was good for 38th overall. Not too far behind was Trina Badger, the third overall female at 20:52 and 44th overall.
In the Masters Male category, Jeff Clark came in first with a time of 18:30, just one second after Linn crossed. Gyi Wu won the Masters Female division with a time of 22:46.
Total, there were about 700 racers, a relatively low turnout due to storms earlier in the evening.
“We had more preregistered runners than we’ve ever had before,” said Waid Harbison, Parks and Recreation’s marketing director. “This year we had 530, which was really good. We were on track to have the most we’ve ever had before. We were hoping for about 800-900 tonight, and I think the weather really killed it.”
While rain wouldn’t have stopped the race from starting, the lightning would’ve caused problems.
“I was a little scared they were going to cancel it because I kind of saw flashes of lightning, and I was like, ‘Please be somebody taking photographs,’” Linn said. “But I’m glad it didn’t storm, though.”
Once the rain passed, it cooled the night off to make for more favorable race conditions.
“Speaking as a cross country runner, this is the best weather you could run in,” said Harbison, a recent Cullman High graduate.
Linn, who runs around 6-8 miles a day, said the course was a challenging one.
“It was hilly,” she said. “There was that long hill right after Mile 1. You just take that right-hand turn, and it’s a really long stretch of uphill. It’s rolling hills. It’s not a flat course, it’s a tough course.”
Both Kidd and Linn work at the Trak Shak in Birmingham. While Kidd went to Vestavia Hills High, Linn is originally from Atlanta.
This was the first year for the couple to take on Cullman’s annual night race, and the couple said they were interested in running it again next year.
“Somehow I heard of it from someone we run with at the Trak Shak,” Linn said. “I was looking it up, and it was perfect timing for a race. I just did a marathon a month and a half ago, so I’m just getting back into 5K races.”
It’s also good timing to get back into shape before most of the races begin in the fall.
“Fall is really when a lot of the bigger races start back,” Linn said. “It’s just too hot in the summertime to really have any big races, so fall everyone is gearing up for the start of a new season. Until the end of next spring, it’s going to be a lot of races.”
Kidd said he usually doesn’t travel to race because Birmingham offers a lot of them, but there are a few exceptions, including this Midnight Run.
“I’d like to maybe go down to Mobile to race the Azalea Trail Run, which is 10K, because that’s really fast,” Kidd said.
Though Kidd grew up in Birmingham, he wasn’t totally unfamiliar with the Cullman area. His mother and grandparents are from Moulton.
% Laura Owens can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.