Race Spotlight: Loonies Midnight Marathon

Run wild through the streets at midnight at this nutty race in Middle Tennessee.

Run wild through the streets at midnight at this nutty race in Middle Tennessee.


Itching for a summer adventure? We found your fix. Held in the tiny town of Livingston, Tenn., and starting at the stroke of midnight, Loonies Midnight Marathon is all kinds of crazy. The certified course, open to a select 250 racers, may not be the most scenic route (runners stick to a five-mile loop), but who cares? It will be pitch black when you’re running! What it lacks in views, the race more than makes up for in spirit, crowd support and Southern charm. All finishers receive two shirts, a personalized award and an excellent story to bring back home.


The marathon starts at midnight for a reason: Tennessee is steamy in July. If the heat doesn’t deter you from squeezing in pre-race miles, run a few laps around Livingston’s Town Square (which dates back to the 19th century) to get a taste of the area. But keep your ears open for footsteps. Residents have reported hearing the ghostly sounds of marching of soldiers from the Spanish-American War.


What better way to carbo-load than with cupcakes? Sweet Sallie’s ( in nearby Cookeville has some of the best. Get in the spirit with the Midnight Crush, a dark chocolate and orange butter cream delight. And a trip to Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without some pit meat. Just a few miles from the bakery, Whitt’s Barbecue ( serves up mile-high plates of pork, turkey and ribs by the slab, all cooked for 24 hours over hickory smoke.


Because the town is so small, Livingston’s accommodation options are limited. To stay near the race start, it’s best to look for rental options from a local. You’ll find cheap, clean digs on Craigslist. But we recommend rounding out your rural experience by reserving a cabin at Standing Stone State Park ( The adorable abodes are equipped with electricity, beds and air conditioning. Plus, you’ll be steps from gorgeous trails, lush with summer greenery and dotted with wildflowers.


Opened by two speedsters in love who longed for a shop that sold their kind of gear, Foothills Running Company ( caters to runners of all speeds and styles. Visit to the store to stock up on gels and chomps, or simply to say hello to your running brethren. If it’s too hot to run mid-day, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the district, where adorable antique shops line the streets.■