HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - This Memorial Day marked the 40th year for the Cotton Row Run in downtown Huntsville. This tradition continues to honor fallen service members.
The fourth decade of the cotton row run officially began Monday morning as runners in the 10k began their journey around downtown Huntsville.
"If I'm going to be a real 'Huntsvillian', I'm going to run this race," said first time Cotton Row runner Wanda Vaughn.
Not only is the three-race run a premier running event in the southeast, but it is also centered around honoring and celebrating those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.
Vaughn attached the photo of a service member to a patriot tutu she was wearing. "This is specialist Adam Nix. I didn't know him but I didn't want to run alone today so I have his picture with me."
Bill Allbritton is one of 8 who has run every year since it began and continues to take part in his fallen comrades' honor. "It's a small thing, but it's something that I like to do."
With growth and new construction in Huntsville, the start and finish line this year were at Big Spring Park. Allbritton said that was the case when the race began.
Other new additions to the 40th year included a band, a new sponsor along with a car giveaway, and a change in the 5k route. "As Huntsville is growing, so is Cotton Row. We've got over 4500 runners this year, compared to 3900 last year," explained race director Donna Palumbo.
All of the runners are able to pass under the flag, paying their respects. "I"m a 24 year retired military soldier and this is my spouse. And so we're here to support the soldiers that have fallen and remembered the soldiers that gave their lives for us," said Randall Bunley.
The first to cross the finish line this year was Dominic Korir of Kenya with a time of 29:36. This year Catherine Mwanzau, also from Kenya, made Cotton Row Run history breaking the open female record in the 10k from 2007 by twenty-eight seconds for a final time of 32:52.