Most high school coaches would cringe at the thought of their athletes roaming the streets well after midnight, but one group of local cross country coaches actually encourage that behavior, all be it only once a year.
Athletes from Ashley Ridge, Pinewood Prep and Summerville high schools came together for the annual Midnight Run Relays last week. For the past six years athletes from the schools have participated in the relays as a way to celebrate the end of their summer conditioning programs and get motivated for the fast-approaching high school cross country season. Traditionally the relays are scheduled to coincide with the first day public high school teams are allowed to open practice but this year that date was pushed back and coaches wanted to continue to have the event the last week of July.
At 11 p.m. July 25, runners met in the Flowertown Elementary School parking lot, which serves as the base for the relays. They were randomly assigned into relay teams comprised of five or six runners each. This year’s event included eight teams plus two alumni teams.
At the stroke of midnight the relays begun and team members took turns running the 1.65-mile loop through the Newington Plantation neighborhood. The mission of the teams, to complete the most laps possible before the relays end at 4 a.m.
Team Nowhere to Run (Noah Woodbury, Eliza Blackwell, Ashton Kirkpatrick, Matthew Kaslick and Milaya Buchanan) managed 21 laps before time expired to win the 2019 Midnight Run Relays. Their prize for placing first was a free breakfast at Waffle House, the same prize awarded to the champions the past five years.
Team Take it on the Run was the runner-up with 19 laps. Trailing were Team Run to the Hills (19 laps), Team Born to Run (19), Team I Run (18), Team Run It (18), Team Running down a Dream (18) and Team Running with the Devil (17).
Laps completed by the alumni teams don’t go toward the team standings but Team I Ran and Team I Ran Remixed completed 21 laps and 20 laps, respectively.
Public schools can have their first official practice of the 2019 cross country season beginning Aug. 2.