How big is the Midnight Express?
The annual 5K race, held midnight Saturday at Country’s on Mercury Drive in Columbus, has hit its 31st year. We think that’s enough to give the event its own alphabet.
A is for awesome. The Midnight Express consistently attracts impressive crowds. “For whatever reason, people just want to come out and be a part of it,” said Scott Ressmeyer, a partner with Country’s.
B is for beep ball. Catch a free game 7 p.m. Friday at South Commons. Beep ball is a version of baseball for blind and visually impaired players. Event sponsors will wear blindfolds and play against the Chicago Comets. Columbus will host the 2013 National Beep Ball Association World Series, Ressmeyer said.
C is for Classic Addict. The local rockers perform before the race beginning around 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
D is for don’t stop. You know, just in case you needed some advance encouragement.
E is for early registration, which ends today.
F is for front of the pack. If you’re serious about your time, stand there. Otherwise, be prepared to weave in and out of people when the race starts.
G is for Garrett Miles. The local singer, who is legally blind, performs before the race. He’ll take the stage around 8 p.m. Saturday.
H is for hydration. After the race, it’s not unusual for some participants to cool off with sweet tea.
I is for illuminated race course filled with candles.
J is for jovial. The race is something rare: a crowded event where it seems like everyone’s in a good mood. That’s a hint, runners. Let’s not mess up a good thing.
K is for kids. Midnight Express attendance spans a wide range of ages.
L is for late registration. If you miss today’s early registration deadline, you can register until 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
M is for Mercury Drive, where you’ll find the central hub of action Saturday night.
N is for neighbors. People who live along the race course line up and encourage runners.
O is for other events. In addition to the race and beep ball tournament, the Midnight Express includes a golf tournament (today), motorcycle poker run (Saturday) and car show (Saturday).
P is for people -- lots of them. Ressmeyer says between runners and spectators, some 5,000 people could show up Saturday night.
Q is for quality. Attend the race and you’ll likely be impressed from start to finish. Many people call it their favorite local 5K.
R is for rain or shine. One year, I participated in the Midnight Express amid rain and noticed nearly no difference in runners’ enthusiasm. In the event of severe weather, follow ledger-enquirer.com for updates on the race.
S is for sandwich. Yes, you really get a barbecue sandwich at the end of the race.
T is for T-shirt, one of the race’s most coveted items. “It’s probably one of the coolest shirts we’ve done in a long time,” Ressmeyer said of this year’s design.
U is for unbeatable. Expect some impressive finish times Saturday, when runners will rely on a chip timing system.
V is for visually impaired. The race benefits visually impaired people in our community.
W is for walking. That’s perfectly OK at the Midnight Express.
X is for X-rated, an adjective least likely to describe Saturday’s event. “It’s very family-friendly,” Ressmeyer said.
Y is for “you’re almost there!” It’s always nice to hear that line during a race -- even when you’re not really almost there.
Z is for zany -- because few other words appropriately describe an urge to run a 5K at midnight.