The 40th running of the annual Cotton Row Run will be on Memorial Day with several changes this year.

Donna Palumbo, Cotton Row race director, said the big changes involve the race routes for the 5K and 10K.

“The 5K is going to be totally new,” Palumbo said. “The 10K beginning and end points have changed but the essence of the course, including the ‘Big Hill’ on Mountainwood Drive are in tact.”

This year, she said both races will start and finish on Church Street on the east side of Big Spring Park. The 10K race starts at 7 a.m. and the 5K race starts at 9 a.m.

A one mile run will be held at 10 a.m. Online registration closed May 15, but late registration will be held at the Expo and will cost $40 for the 5K or 10K, and $15 for the one mile run.

“We’ve always held the Expo at the Von Braun Center but because of all of the road construction, we will be holding the Expo on Sunday, the day before the race, at Bill Penney Toyota dealership on University Drive from 1 to 6 p.m,” she said. “They have more space and in addition to the race package pick up, they’re going to grill hamburgers and hot dogs, our sponsors including Fleet Feet, TOC and Publix, will also be there; and it’s going to be a party-like atmosphere for the participants.”

On the day of the race, the band PMB will be in the park to get the crowd pumped up.

This year will be the first time that all race finishers will get a gift at the finish line.

“Anyone who finishes the 5K or 10K will get a cap with a Cotton Row Run logo on it,” Palumbo said. “We’re also giving away a car.”

Bill Penney Mitsubishi, the new sponsor of the race, will be giving away a Mitsubishi Mirage. All race participants registered for the 5K or 10K will be eligible to win if they are at least 19 and a licensed driver.

“We are excited to have them on board as our new sponsor and they will be our sponsor for the next five years,” Palumbo said. “The giveaway car will be the official pace car for our race.”

The most important element of the race, Palumbo said, involves the Flag Line Living Memorial for U.S. service members who died in service to the country.

Kerrie Branson, who oversees Survivor Outreach Services on Redstone Arsenal, said some families run or walk in the race in honor of a loved one and some family members hold flags at the Living Memorial/Flag Line which is on the course.

Gold Star mothers will have a table set up at the expo in which anyone participating in the race can sign up to run in honor of a fallen warrior and pick up a picture to pin to their shirts during the race.

Mac Love will speak before the 10K race. He and wife Lydia are parents of 1st Lt. Scott Love, who was killed by enemy forces in Iraq on June 7, 2006. Having Gold Star families be a part of the opening ceremony brings to light the significance of the race being on Memorial Day and remind people what it’s all about, Branson said.

Branson said allowing our community to have options like Cotton Row Run to remember the sacrifices of our fallen heroes on Memorial Day is meaningful and it also means a lot to the surviving families.

“I think it’s great they have multiple ways to remember their loved ones on Memorial Day,” she said.

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