Spring is in the air: Runners, take your marks|[3/3/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2005

The calendar flipped from February to March on Tuesday, Japanese magnolias have bloomed, jonquils are up and other flowers will soon be blooming across Mississippi.

And on Saturday, another sign that spring is fast approaching will arrive – the Run Thru History.

The 26th annual package of events, a 10-kilometer run and 5-kilometer race walk through the Vicksburg Military Park, will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the arches near the park’s entrance.

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About 500 people had registered for the event by Tuesday afternoon, and the number of participants will be nearly double that on Saturday in what continues to be the largest event of its type in Mississippi.

“That may be pretty close to last year,” RTH registration chairman Hays Latham said of the pre-enrolled number. “I would say we’ll have about 900. It’s amazing how everybody waits until the last minute.”

The late rush of registrations – Latham anticipates about 450 between now and Saturday – might overwhelm some people. For him, it’s become routine. Latham has been part of a race committee that has been organizing the RTH for almost 20 years, and he’s used to dealing with the late flood of paperwork.

“It takes a lot of time to get it tabulated and in, but it’s something you get used to,” Latham said.

While Latham is unable to avoid the late crush, race participants can.

As of Wednesday night, 625 have registered for the run and walk combined. Thirty-four had registered for the Blue-Gray 1-miler, down from last year, race director Mac Varner said. Those runners and walkers who have registered early can pick up their packets, which include socks, a T-shirt and other assorted goodies, Friday at Battlefield Inn between 5 and 8 p.m.

Latham encouraged local runners and walkers to pick up their packets early.

“We highly suggest the Vicksburg people come in Friday to avoid the rush,” Latham said.

Runners and walkers can still enter the race, but the entry fee goes from $20 to $25 and would-be participants must wait until Friday at 5 p.m. to register.

Raceday registration is open from 5 until 8 p.m. Friday at Battlefield Inn, and again on Saturday from 6:30 to 8 a.m.