Gearhart, Hall take OTRR titles

Published 12:12 am Sunday, October 14, 2012

A fresh face and a returning champion were the class of a record field Saturday at the Over the River Run.

Clinton teenager Sam Gearhart was the overall winner in the 5-mile run, while Vicksburg’s Kristi Hall won her second straight women’s title with a time of 34:18.

Elizabeth Joiner of Vicksburg repeated in the women’s 5-mile walk in 56:22, while Larry Robinson of Forest won the men’s in 48:53.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Hunter Emery, 14, won the 1-mile fun run in 6:44 and 10-year-old Cassidy Lampkin won the girls race in 6:57.

On a sunny and warm Saturday morning, the Over the River Run enjoyed the best day in its 24-year history. A total of 679 runners, walkers and fun runners completed Vicksburg’s fall road race on the old U.S. Highway 80 Mississippi River Bridge.

Race Director Annette Kirlin said 767 people signed up for the three events. In all races, a number of runners and walkers don’t cross the finish line and aren’t given an official time. The total number of entrants eclipsed last year’s previous record of 733.

“It’s the best one we’ve had and it keeps getting bigger,” Kirklin said. “The great weather had a lot to do with it, but I also think having this be the first race for the new Vicksburg Slam helped.”

The Vicksburg Slam is a new competition that rewards participants who compete in all three of Vicksburg’s road races. The next race of the Slam will be January’s Chill in the Hills, which is run through downtown Vicksburg. The Slam is capped by March’s Run Through History at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Gearhart and Hall both got a leg up on the competition by winning the first piece of the Slam.

It was Gearhart’s first time to run the bridge race and he needed a good final kick on the last quarter mile. He was behind Mike Anderson of Monroe when he finally made his move.

“I had been drafting on him for a while since about halfway back up the bridge,” said Gearhart, who runs for Mount Salus Academy in Clinton. “This is a great race to work on your speed. I set a new personal best in the 5-mile today at 28:39. Overall, it was good weather and the competition was good.”

Anderson, 26, was second in 28:44 and Jackson’s Collin Johnson was third at 29:50. Johnson said Gearhart took advantage of a slight head wind coming home.

“Sam’s come a long way this season,” Johnson said. “He’s had an issue with his knee, but today we had a good tail wind at the start but then a pretty noticeable head wind coming back.”

Gearhart said because of the Slam, he will try to run the remaining two races.

“I definitely think I will,” Gearhart said. “I’ve never run the Run Through History but some of my family has.”

The 34-year-old Hall won her second straight Over the River Run and is now eyeing a Slam title. She won this year’s Chill in the Hills and was third in the Run Thru History. The Slam championship is awarded on the basis of cumulative time through all three races.

“My husband was so excited about the Slam he demanded that I sign up for it,” Hall said. “Today was a tough run for me. I could see this pack of Vicksburg women behind me and I could feel them coming for me. Also, I haven’t trained as much because I’ve been busy putting together a fun run at South Park Elementary. It’s the first of its kind and we’ll have it on Oct. 27 and it’s for all the elementary school kids in Vicksburg.”

Pushing Hall was Ashley Mason, 33, of Vicksburg (35:55) and Warren Central cross country runner Hannah Register. The Lady Vikes senior finished third at 35:57 and was one of several local high school runners who competed. St. Aloysius had its entire boys team run and was led by Luke Eckstein, 14, who placed ninth overall in 31:40.

“Usually we have a cross country race on Saturday but we didn’t have one today,” Register said. “We had three boys and two girls run today and I know there were a lot from St. Al.”