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Run Thru History returns with new course

It won’t take long for runners and walkers to see that the 2021 Run Thru History is different than any of its predecessors.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions that prohibited use of the Vicksburg National Military Park, the 42nd annual Run Thru History scheduled for Saturday morning will have a brand new course on the other side of town. The 10K run and 5K race walk will begin in the parking lot of WaterView Casino, 3990 Washington St., and follow a route primarily along Confederate Avenue.

The first quarter-mile of the new course will include a steep 80-foot hill from the casino parking lot up to Washington Street that will offer an immediate challenge for all of the runners and walkers.

“I didn’t want people to miss out on the hills of the Park,” race director Phillip Doiron said with a laugh.

Doiron said the changes are planned for this year only and praised WaterView Casino, one of the race’s primary sponsors, for filling the void as a host site.

“We have to thank WaterView Casino. They’ve been a wonderful partner. Their stepping up made this happen,” said Doiron, who is also the director of the Vicksburg YMCA which organizes the race. “To me, the Run Thru History is bigger than a road race. It’s a community event. To be the bookend of an event (COVID) nobody wants to go through again, and to be able to have it both years, is something we’re happy about. We want to make sure we have a good time and a safe time.”

Online registration is open until noon Friday at runthruhistory.org, and runners and walkers can also register in person at the Vicksburg YMCA off of East Clay Street until that time. Late registration is open from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, and 7 to 8:20 a.m. Saturday, at the WaterView Casino parking lot.

The race begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The registration fee is $35. It includes a long sleeve technical T-shirt, a spaghetti dinner during Friday’s late registration window, and entry to the postrace party on Saturday morning, as well as race awards.

Parking is available Saturday at both WaterView Casino and Riverfront Park on Washington Street.

Doiron said that, as of midday Tuesday, 259 people had registered. He expected the final number to be around 400, about half of what it normally is, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Runners and walkers must wear face masks before the race, while wave starts and chip timing will help distance them at the beginning.

“It’s a simple activity, done outdoors, and most of the time it can be done safely. We have learned from other races what to do,” Doiron said.

The course is the biggest change for this year’s Run Thru History. The race will begin in the WaterView parking lot, which means runners and walkers will have to navigate a long, steep hill immediately.

After reaching the top of the hill, runners and walkers will head south down Washington Street for about a half-mile before turning left onto Confederate Avenue. The bulk of the course follows that road, with a turnaround at the Wisconsin Avenue overpass near I-20.

Doiron said the new course still ties into the theme of the Run Thru History by following the Confederate siege lines and going past the locations of artillery batteries that protected the river.

“It’s not going to be on the level of the Military Park. But it’s still Vicksburg. There’s still hills,” Doiron said of the challenge. “It falls along a lot of Confederate siege lines, and they held the high ground. It’s going to be plenty hilly.”

The finish line will be on the high ground as well, on Washington Street rather than in the WaterView parking lot.

Doiron said starting the race at the bottom of the hill was a safety consideration — the Vicksburg Police Department requested it to reduce pedestrian traffic on Washington Street before the race — and so was ending it on top of the hill.

“We were probably more worried about people running out of control down that hill and falling,” he said.

After the race, the Run Thru History will have a much more familiar feel. The traditional postrace party with hot dogs, beer and entertainment by local Vicksburg musical legends The Chill will once again take place, albeit in the WaterView Casino parking lot.

“Come ready for some fun,” Doiron said, before adding with a laugh, “and get ready to go uphill.”

RUN THRU HISTORY
• Saturday, 8:30 a.m.
• The Run Thru History 10K run, 5K race walk and Cannonball Run 1-mile fun run will begin in the parking lot of WaterView Casino, 3990 Washington St., and follow a course along Confederate Avenue
• Registration fee is $35 and includes a race T-shirt, spaghetti dinner at Friday’s late registration/pack pick-up, and admission to the post-race party
• Online registration is open at runthruhistory.org until noon on Friday. Late registration will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, and 7 to 8:20 a.m. Saturday, at the WaterView Casino parking lot

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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