River Run will go on, SCHF says

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation will breathe new life into the Over the River Run, managing the 5-mile run and racewalk over the Old Mississippi River Bridge and raising money for foundation work.

The run

For information on the Over the River Run, e-mail info@southernculture.org or call 601-631-2997. Registration is $20.

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The events, held for 20 years, faced extinction after River Region Health System ended its longtime sponsorship earlier this month. The SCHF pledge ensures the race will go on as scheduled on Oct. 10.

“We just did not want it to die. It’s too important to people in Vicksburg and to this town. People love to do it,” said SCHF executive director Annette Kirklin.

She added that proceeds from the race will go toward a new sound system for the Southern Cultural Heritage Center’s auditorium.

“It’s going to cost us $57,900. We’re not going to make it in this one event, but we can start toward it,” Kirklin said.

River Region had handled most of the organizational duties of the race, such as registration, arranging volunteers and securing permits.

Mississippi Track Club president Jack Ward, whose group oversees most competitive aspects of the race, said a number of groups inquired about taking over after River Region withdrew.

“It’s just like moving into a new house. I had four or five other people asking about it,” Ward said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing and have to start from scratch you need six months. You need to get permits, set up volunteers. This was already done. And they’re going to have plenty of help. The race itself is going to come off.”

Ameristar Casino, another major sponsor of the race, has said it will continue its association. Kirklin said several other sponsors are lined up and awaiting contracts.

“They (Ameristar) are very much a sponsor, and others have called and said ‘where do we sign?’ When you have sponsors calling you, you’re in good shape,” Kirklin said.

Now, Kirklin, who has participated in the race about a dozen times, and the SCHF face a sprint to the finish. Beginning with an organizational meeting today at 4:30 at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, they’ll have about five weeks to print fliers and T-shirts, amass a small army of volunteers, secure permits and finalize sponsorship deals.

River Region owns or manages most health care services in the area. No explanation for its withdrawal was given.

The Over the River Run events are second in size only to the Run Thru History. Held each spring for 30 years, the run through the Vicksburg National Military Park is the Mississippi Track Club’s largest event.


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com