Prize money selling point for OTRR|[10/12/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2006

On its 18th birthday, the Over the River Run is turning pro.

In an effort to promote Vicksburg’s second road race of the year, its sponsors are offering $250 to the overall male and female winners in the 5-mile run and walk. It’s the first time in the race’s history that prize money will be awarded, and makes it one of the few Mississippi Track Club events to offer a cash prize to the winners.

&#8220Ameristar wanted to make it bigger and better this year, and came up with this idea,” race director Jana Webb said. &#8220We ran it through the committee and decided it was something we wanted to do.”

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The Over the River Run – co-sponsored by Ameristar Casino and River Region Health System – is scheduled for Saturday at 8 a.m. on the Old Mississippi River Bridge. The 5-mile course crosses the bridge, turns around in Delta, La., and returns across the river to finish up at the Mississippi Welcome Center on Washington Street.

The registration fee is $25, and late registration will be available at the Welcome Center from 6 to 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Pre-registered runners and walkers can pick up their race packets at Ameristar Casino’s Magnolia Room on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. Late registration will also be available then.

So far, Webb said about 450 people had registered for the run and walk. She was hoping for several hundred more by Saturday.

&#8220Our goal was 1,000. So if we can get to 700 or 800, that’ll be great,” Webb said.

Mississippi Track Club president Jack Ward, whose organization handles raceday operations for the OTRR and 44 other events around the state, said the prize money may draw some people who normally wouldn’t run – but probably won’t entice a lot of casual runners who would or would not come to this event, regardless.

&#8220We’ll probably get some real fast people. We used to get some of the fastest people in the state at that race, and hadn’t gotten them in a while,” Ward said, adding that there was a big difference between the pros who regularly race for money and the casual runners who will make up the vast majority of the field. &#8220The weekend runner is the weekend runner. You’re talking about somebody running a sub five-minute mile, and we don’t have a lot of people who can do that.”