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More than 600 registered for Over The River Run

[9/4/03]Like a massing army, nearly 700 men, women and children will line up at the foot of the Old Mississippi River bridge early Saturday morning. They’re not preparing for an invasion of Louisiana, just the annual Over the River Run.

Nearly 600 people have pre-registered for Vicksburg’s second road race of the year, and another 100 to 200 entries are expected by race day.

The total number of people pre-registered for the 5-mile run, 5-mile walk, and 1-mile fun run is up about 100 from last year, OTR chairman Emily Weatherly said. She credited the increase to a media marketing blitz that has included print, radio, and TV commercials.

“I think we’ve done a real good job of getting the word out this year,” Weatherly said. “We started the publicity a lot earlier this year.”

Runners and walkers who have pre-registered can pick up their packets at The Vicksburg Post building on North Frontage Road until 5 p.m. today. After that, packets won’t be available until 6:30 Saturday morning at the Ameristar Casino parking lot.

Competitors can register at the Ameristar lot on Saturday, from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. The race begins at 8 a.m.

Weatherly was expecting about 150 people to register on race day, a number that may be helped by a forecast for cooler weather.

“The time of year seems to be good for runners. It’s a little cooler,” Weatherly said. “We’ve just been very lucky with the weather.”

The OTR isn’t as large or as famous as its spring cousin, The Run Thru History, but does provide just as unique and challenging an experience for the competitors.

The course starts at the Mississippi welcome center on Washington Street and proceeds across the bridge to Louisiana. In Delta, the runners and walkers turn around and head back across the bridge.

Along the way, they must deal with a somewhat slippery road surface, winds that push them across the span one way and blow in their face the next, and a final 100-yard sprint up a steepl hill to the finish line.

Mix in an occasional train crossing the river adjacent to the roadway, and it’s clear that cramps and muscle aches aren’t the only things runners have to worry about.

“I guess it being my first race, and being over the water like that, I just love it,” said Vicksburg resident Debbie Cheney, who has won the 5-mile race walk each of the last two years. “Everybody talks about the Run Thru History, but I think this one is just as important.”