The annual Cotton Row Run was not dampened by Mother Nature with its 44th running. Photo- Spencer Cox

Cotton Row Run’s 44th Running A Huge Success With Madison Runners

HUNTSVILLE- Mother Nature may have dampened the atmosphere, but Mr. Sunshine prevailed in the running of the 44th Bill Penney Toyota Cotton Row Run.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms corralled the area just prior to the start of the annual 10K race in downtown Huntsville but subsided just in time for the 7:00 a.m. scheduled start of the traditional Memorial Day extravaganza and soon clouds gave way to more sunny conditions for the event that included a 10K and 5K races along with a 1-mile fun run conducted by the Huntsville Track Club.

In all, 1,434 finished the 10K race with 274 of those runners who hailed from Madison.  In the 5K, 236 runners from Madison were part of the 1,258 who officially completed the shorter of the two scheduled races which first occurred in 1980 with one race canceled due to COVID-19.

The start gun was fired on time and the runners began their trek through parts of downtown Huntsville. Coming to the finish line, the setting was much like last year with David Bett, 31, of Kenya leading Dominic Korir, 31, from Los Angeles. The one-two finish was similar as 2023 with Bett finishing first with a time of 29:29 and Korir at 30:33. In the female division, 25-year old Betty Sigei of Wailuku, Hawaii, who finished runner-up a year ago, took to the front of the pack and finished first with a time of 34:53 some 51 seconds faster than runner-up Emma Hardman, 27, of Huntsville. Bett and Sigei both collected $1,200 for their victories while second place finishers took home $600 each.

Madison runners were well represented with four of them finishing among the top 25. Leading the Madison contingent was 25-year old Hunter Nails who was fourth overall with a time of 32:34. Finishing behind Nails was Beck Mitchell, 36, in eighth overall at 34:17 and Alex Shah, 23, at No. 13 with a finish time of 36:08. The top Madison female finisher was Sarah Crouch as the 34-year old was 23rd overall and third female at 37:31. Hannah Stevens, 18, was the second fastest female from Madison with a time of 42:20.

Madison did very well in the race’s age division winners. Tops in the Male 25-29 age division was Hunter Nails, 25, 32:34. Male 35-39 was won by Beck Mitchell, 36, 34:17. Female 17-19 was won by Hannah Stevens, 18, 42:20. Female 20-24 was won by Claire Deaton, 20, 46:59 and Female 30-34 division was won by Sarah Crouch, 34, 37:31.

The 5K race was won by Nashville’s Brad Cheek, 27, with a time of 16:46. He edged fellow Nashville runner Kevin Dempsey, 33, by a mere three seconds at 16:49. Top female was Ashley Walker of Birmingham as the 22-year old finished at 19:25. Madison was led by John Litavec, 15, at 19:22 while Luke Risse, 16, was runner-up at 20:25. Females were led by 18-year old Emma Bothern with her time of 22:27 while Hannah Nails, 25, was runner-up at 22:33.

In all, 1,258 finished the 5K with Madison providing 236 participants.

The 2024 Memorial Day event featured runners from age eight to 80. The official last runner in the 10K came across the finish line at 1:51:06 with the 5K officially ended with a runner at the finish line with a time of 1:07:23.

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