Hundreds pack ECCS Snowball Run

Runners sprint across the finish line of the Evangel Classical Christian School Snowball Run's 5K race at the school on Jan. 14. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

More than 220 runners from throughout the state braved sub-freezing early morning temperatures Jan. 14 as they raced to better health through Alabaster’s neighborhoods.

Evangel Classical Christian School held its annual Snowball Run on and around the school grounds off Thompson Road beginning at 8 a.m.

This was the second year of the event, which is usually held on a winter weekend morning in temperatures hovering around freezing. Temperatures on the morning of the race were in the high 20s as 223 runners took part in the 5K, 10K and 1-mile family fun run.

“We are trying to make this a Birmingham-wide event for runners and families of all ages,” said race organizer Lee Russell, a Helena resident who attends Evangel Presbyterian Church.

The United States Track and Field Association-certified race began on the school grounds, and traveled along Seventh Avenue Southwest, 13th Street Southwest, Fourth Avenue Southwest, 12th Street Southwest, 10th Street Southwest, Eighth Avenue Southwest, Ninth Avenue Southwest, Mangrove Drive, Winterhaven Drive, Oleander Lane, Pebble Lane, Palm Drive and Dolphin Court before coming to an end on Berryhill Drive near the ECCS campus.

“The race is completely a residential course, so it doesn’t go onto any busy roads,” Russell said. “There are a couple of hills, but a lot of the course is flat.”

Russell, who said he has been a runner for nearly 15 years, said he decided to help organize the race last year to give local families and runners a chance to get fit while helping raise money for families in need.

This year, all money raised through the event will be used to fund ECCS scholarships who would otherwise not be able to afford the cost of tuition.

“We decided to put it toward scholarships this year. Because of the economy, there are some families that are struggling right now,” Russell said.

Male and female winners were awarded in the 12 and younger, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60 and older age groups. Event organizers provided food and snacks for race participants after the race and all runners received an event T-shirt.

Ruth Vanzandt of Arab won the 10K overall women’s race with a time of 49:20, Dustin Campbell of Oxford won the 10K overall male division with a time of 41:16, Birmingham resident Stephanie Butler won the women’s overall 5K division with a time of 23:11 and Justin Parker of Birmingham won the 5K men’s division with a time of 17:38.

Chelsea resident Sarah McCormac was the female winner in the fun run and Birmingham resident E.J. Moses won the fun run men’s division.