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Littlest feet put the fun in the annual park run

Competitors start the 25th annual Run Thru History Saturday in front of the Memorial Arch in the Vicksburg National Military Park.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[3/7/08]She was 11 months old when she took her first steps, and at Saturday’s Run Thru History, 2-year-old Alaina Huskey ran across the finish line of the 1-mile “Fun Run” all by herself.

“She walked and ran some, and I carried her most of the way back, but she ran across the finish line,” said Alaina’s mother, Amanda Huskey.

With a recorded time of 17 minutes, Alaina was the last of 78 to complete the race for ages 15 and younger.

The race was the last of three to get started in the 25th annual Run Thru History, a road race sanctioned by the Mississippi Track Club in the Vicksburg National Military Park. Start guns for the other two races, a 10K run and a 5K walk, had sounded nearly an hour before.

For the Fun Run, Alaina’s first, she was decked out in pink sweatpants and a hot-pink top, and as the horn sounded, she held her mother’s hand.

The lineup is just past the Battlefield Inn on North Frontage Road and the scores of feet none any tinier than Alaina’s shod in running gear make their way east, up a hill and back down.

Though just a toddler, Alaina is already a pro at exercising. She exercises with her mother to a “Walk Away the Pounds” video, though she mostly plays during the tape.

Saturday’s races had 925 competitors, up from 723 last year and down from the record high of 1,548 five years ago.

Ben Rowland, 15 and a cross country runner at Vicksburg High School, came in first in his first competition. He finished in 5 minutes, 56 seconds.

Robert Oates, 25, of Jackson, and Cathie Koss, 37, of Lutcher, La., were the winners of the 10K run. Debbie Cheney of Vicksburg and Barry Worrell, 46, of Grenada, won the 5K walk.

Matthew Register, a 5-year-old kindergartner, also competed in the Fun Run. His sister, 9-year-old Hannah, won the girls’ 1-miler with a time of 7:32.

“It’s fun because there are all these people, and they’re running and you try to compete against them,” he said.

And 11-year-old Eden Smith and her 5-year-old sister, Sarah Kate, competed. “It was hard, but I made it,” Eden said, as she and her sister caught their breath after the race.

Eden finished in 8:42, but said for next year’s race she’ll be more prepared.

“I’m going to practice a lot more than I did this year,” she said.

Hays Latham, treasurer and entries chairman for the Run Thru History, talked about the Fun Run, whose official name is Blue/Gray 1-Miler.

“This is a way to get the whole family involved, and make the Run Thru History a family affair,” he said.