Brit wins RTH overall title

Published 1:22 am Sunday, March 2, 2014

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British Army Maj. Tom Lilleyman took the overall title in the 35th edition of the 10-kilometer Run Thru History Saturday at the Vicksburg National Military Park, but he was not the first competitor to cross the finish line first.
That distinction fell to walker Larry Robinson of Flora who won the Run Thru History 5-kilometer walk with a time of 30 minutes 34 seconds.
“The hills were the toughest part,” he said as he stopped to catch his breath. I’m not used to walking in hills, I like the flat land.”
Lilleyman, 34, who with his family has been in Vicksburg for six months, is liaison officer for an exchange program between the British military and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center. He was running in his first Run Thru History, and finished nine seconds ahead of Chris McNeese of Brandon with a time of 37 minutes 40 seconds for the 10K.
“I run in the park every day,” Lilleyman said. “It’s awesome. I really enjoy the hills here. We’re so fortunate to have the park to run in. Very privileged to run in it.”
He added he’s been training with a group of runners for the Boston Marathon, “and we just all qualified at the Greenville marathon. This is just a nice practice run, and you enjoy running on home turf.”
“It was hard,” said McNeese, 32, who was also running the park’s course for the first time and finished with a time of 37:49. He started the race with a slight disadvantage. He had run 14 miles before taking his place at the starting line.
“That was Boston (marathon) training,” he said. “I started at 6 (a.m.) all by myself, no one would run with me. I ran through the park. I got to see every cannon in the park.”
He said he and Lilleyman ran the whole race together, before Lilleyman left him to win the race.
“He finished a few seconds ahead of me,” McNeese said.
“If that guy had run 14 (miles) before (the race), it would have been fair,” he added with a laugh.
In the women’s division of the 10K, Keri Frazier, took her seventh win in nine runs, finishing with a time of 40:41 seconds.
“I was trying to break 40 today,” said Frazier, 31, a Vicksburg native who now lives in Birmingham, Ala. “I grew up here, so I know it (the park) like the back of my hand. I love it. We practiced here in high school. I always enjoy coming back here to run. I love the hills.”
She said she now runs with the Birmingham track club, adding the Birmingham area “is very hilly, so it helps me stay in shape.”
“I ran the time I wanted to run,” said Kristi Hall, who finished second to Frazier in the women’s race with a time of 42:14. “She just ran faster than me again.”
Hall said she was running even with Frazier until they reached the hills on the course, when Frazier began to pull away.
“She’s a stronger runner than I am,” she said. The race marked another year of frustration for Hall, who has finished behind Frazier in previous Runs Thru History. She said she plans to continue pushing to get that first win, “but I only have so many years left,” she said with a chuckle.
Robinson’s win was his second in the 5K walk. Patsy Watson won the women’s 5K walk in 34:40.
The races started under partly cloudy skies with a 60-degree temperature and a slight breeze that seemed to dissipate as the thermometer inched up to the lower 70s by the start of the children’s 1-mile fun run that followed the completion of the 10K run and 5K walk.
The grassy area south of the finish line near the Battlefield Inn became a large parking lot as cars parked three deep on the grass and lined the shoulder of the Interstate 20 Clay Street exit and along the shoulder of Clay Street to the Military Park.
Spectators lined both sides of North Frontage Road near the Battlefield Inn to cheer the competitors on as they crossed the finish line, some more than an hour after they started the race.
While the youngsters got ready for their race, which was won by Cian Miller, a student at Warren Central Junior High School in a time of 6:35, many of the competitors moved to the Battlefield Inn parking lot, where runners and their supporters listened to music by The Chill, took advantage of a selection of food and beverages, and the offer of a massage for $1 a minute by members of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association.
Frank McGowan of Vicksburg was one of the first runners to get a rubdown. This was his first RTH.
“I’m getting me a $10 work out,” he said. “I’ve lived here 30 years, and the only time I go there (the park) is when I take tourists. That’s the only time I’ve come.”
He said the toughest part of the race was the hills, especially, Louisiana Hill. “I don’t think I even like Louisiana any more, but they have good gumbo,” he said.

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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