Over the River Run welcomes athletes from all over

Published 11:48 pm Saturday, October 10, 2015


Caleb Hammons and Kristi Hall got to the Over the River Run with a little help from their friends.

Once they got there, it was all them.

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Hammons, a 33-year-old Flowood resident, woke up Saturday and decided to hitch a ride with a friend to the race. He conquered the 5-mile course on the Old Mississippi River Bridge in 29 minutes and 57 seconds to win the overall title.

It was the first time the former Ole Miss cross country runner had come to the Over the River Run since 2008, when he won it.

“I put on race events, a lot of 5Ks, so a lot of Saturdays I’m not racing,” Hammons said. “My buddy Justin (Brumfield) is a chiropractor and I rode over here with him. He’s doing volunteer work giving massages, and I said ‘I’ll ride with you.’”

Hammons separated from his training partner Collin Johnson about a mile and a half into the race and never looked back. He beat Johnson by 1 minute and 55 seconds — the largest margin of victory in the Over the River Run since Chuck Engle won by 2 minutes and 14 seconds in 1996. It’s only the third time since 2000 that the margin of victory has been more than a minute.

Johnson, a 40-year-old Clinton resident, finished with a time of 31:52. Josue Capir of Hazlehurst was third, in 32:19.

“That’s pretty slow for him,” Johnson said of Hammons. “We’re not in the shape we usually are. It was tough today.”

Neither was Hall, but she still managed to once again win the race she has dominated for nearly a decade. She won her fifth Over the River Run women’s championship with a time of 34:41 despite missing several weeks of training because of an ankle injury.

She credited a friend with keeping her active through swimming, which at least allowed her to stay in good enough shape to be ready for a run at the OTRR crown.

“I was wearing a boot three weeks ago. I wasn’t expecting to go under seven minutes (pace) at all,” Hall said. “I fell in a hole and had to lay off for about six weeks. My swimming friend kept me going.”

The 37-year-old Hall also won the women’s title in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. She finished second in 2009 and 2013, and was third in 2014.

Jamie Cain of Jacksonville, North Carolina, was the women’s runner-up, with a time of 36:09.

In the 5-mile race walk, Barbara Duplichain pulled away at the midway point and coasted to her 12th Over the River Run championship — and first since 2000. She ended the three-year reign of Larry Robinson, who did not compete Saturday.

Duplichain posted a time of 48:02, easily beating runner-up and men’s winner Keith Guy of Byram. Guy had a time of 51:21. Vicksburg’s Steve Pranger was third, in 54:51.

“Around Mile 3 I lost here. I fizzled out,” Guy said.

For Guy, though, winning the men’s championship was a nice consolation prize. He and Duplichain both competed in the race walk events at the National Senior Games in 2013 — Duplichain returned and won two gold medals in the 55-59-year-olds’ age group this year — but suffered a heart attack in May.

The Over the River Run was his first race since then.

“I’m trying,” he said with a smile.

Duplichain had a longer hiatus. She won 11 consecutive overall or women’s Over the River Run titles before injuries forced her to retire in the early 2000s. She recently started a successful comeback that has brought her back to the top of the heap in Mississippi’s race walking community.

The 55-year-old from Harrisville won the women’s Run Thru History title in March.

“The last time I did this race, my left leg went numb. I was having some sciatic nerve problems, and my parents were also elderly. I decided that was it. I stopped training and doing races,” Duplichain said. “It was God’s way of giving my back time to heal.”

Emmanuel Agyepong of Vicksburg won the 1-mile fun run with a time of 7:12. Gloria Hall of Vicksburg was the girls’ winner, in 7:51. Hall is the daughter of Kristi Hall.

A total of 808 people registered for the 27th annual Over the River Run, and nearly 700 completed it. That was a slight dip from 2014, when 875 registered and 749 finished.

The registration and completion numbers are often different for road races because some people are not scored, don’t finish, or don’t show up at all.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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