Some come to sweat, others come to socialize.
Country’s Midnight Express isn’t just another 5K race. The annual event, now in its 30th year, attracts die-hard athletes as well as thousands of spectators intent on savoring the action from the sidelines.
Some 5,000 people are expected to show up for Saturday’s Midnight Express — 2,000 of whom will run the race, according to Scott Ressmeyer, a partner with Country's Barbecue.
The event is a fundraiser for visually impaired individuals.
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It has raised money for a variety of local projects, including a new recording studio at the Columbus Public Library on Macon Road. The studio will be used to record books and more for blind and visually impaired patrons.
Not just a race
The Midnight Express action starts long before the midnight 5K race.
In addition to today’s golf tournament, the annual beep ball game will be held 7 p.m. Friday at the South Commons stadium near the Columbus Civic Center. It’s free.
Beep ball is a version of baseball for blind and visually impaired players. The game uses a beeping ball to accommodate its players.
In the local game, event sponsors will wear blindfolds and play against the Chicago Comets, a group of blind and visually impaired athletes.
Saturday’s pre-race events include a 5 p.m. poker run and live entertainment beginning around 7 p.m. at Country’s on Mercury Drive, the site of the race.
Featured acts are Garrett Miles, Heather Hammond, Big Woody and the Splinters and Classic Addict. Also, guests will watch a satellite feed of members of the 3rd Brigade running the race in Iraq.
Ready, set, run
Brave enough to participate in the race? Ressmeyer promises the 5K isn’t an athletes-only event.
“It’s not that kind of race,” he said.
Sure, some runners will inevitably flock to the front of the crowd with a desired finish time in mind.
But Ressmeyer added, “We also have a lot of people that just walk the race.”
Physical fitness isn’t the only motivating factor.
There’s also the coveted race T-shirt, which Ressmeyer said will be heat-activated and feature multiple colors this year.
Whether attendance is driven by T-shirts, entertainment or the satisfaction of crossing a finish line, Ressmeyer is thrilled the event continues to thrive.
“It’s very humbling to us,” he said.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at email@example.com or 706-571-8516.