Texas 10-year-old wins Chill in the Hills walk; Kazery takes 10K title

Published 11:07 pm Saturday, January 14, 2017

A new course and hot temperatures brought 249 people out to walk and run through the hills of Vicksburg on Saturday morning.

One of the youngest among them was better than all.

Madison Morgan, a 10-year-old race walker from Houston, Texas, took the top prize in the 5K race walk Saturday at the Chill in the Hills road race in downtown Vicksburg.

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Morgan beat 121 other walkers with a time of 32 minutes, 54 seconds. She’s the youngest person ever to win the 5K walk or 10K run in the Chill in the Hills’ nine-year history. Luke Beissel, a then-12-year-old from Grenada, won the 10K in 2016.

One hundred and twenty two people, including a group who were in town for the Tim Seaman and Jeff Salvage Race Walking Clinic held in Crystal Springs this weekend, completed the 5K walk course. Morgan, a member of youth track club Track Houston, was with the group.

“I’ve never done a 5K walk before so we thought it would be nice to try, and I wanted a chili bowl,” she said, referring to the prize top finishers get instead of a medal at the Chill in the Hills.

Clinton’s William Kazery won the overall championship in the 10K run with a time of 35:28 — 4 ½ minutes ahead of runner-up Armando Marquez.

Randi Anda won the women’s championship and was 10th overall in the 10K with a time of 46:53.
Morgan said the course was hilly and the weather was good.

“I liked it,” she said. “It wasn’t too dry. It wasn’t too hot. It wasn’t too cold. It wasn’t too humid.”

Morgan started off in the lead and never looked back. She said her friend, Barbara Duplichain, caught up with her and they paced each other until the end. The 56-year-old Duplichain, a longtime force on Mississippi’s race walking circuit, finished second with a time of 33:09.

The third-place finisher in the walk was Bill Hebb, of Tyler, Texas. The 65-year-old won the men’s championship with a time of 33:19. He was very impressed with Morgan’s performance.

“I’ve never seen a kid walk like that,” he said. “I walked behind her so I saw every step. I said, ‘I’m going to catch that little kid because little kids can’t go very far.’”

Hebb was also a clinic attendee, and jokingly accused the first- and second-place finishers of trying to box him out.

“I caught up with them once and then they blew me away, but I was behind them within 50 yards. They were ganging up on me,” Hebb said with a laugh. “I realized at mile two I wasn’t going to catch either one of them so I said ‘OK, just don’t get passed.’”

Hebb said the last race walk he competed in was at the Senior Games in Utah, and he said his next race will be at the National Senior Games. He said it is hard to find race walks, and he plans on coming back to Vicksburg next year.

“It was beautiful, and it was hilly, hilly, hilly,” Hebb said. “(There are) a lot of nice people. Vicksburg is a beautiful place.”

Chill in the Hills offers more than just a 5K walk. There is also a 10K run that had 109 competitors — none of whom were in the same league as Kazery.

Multiple people commented on the ease with which Kazery blew through the course, barely breaking a sweat and thanking officers directing traffic as he ran through intersections. Kazery didn’t stick around to pick up his chili bowl and left immediately following the race.

The second-place finisher was October’s Over the River Run champion Armando Marquez, 58, of Belzoni. Marquez finished 4 ½ minutes after Kazery, in 39:58. He said the hills really impacted his time.

“Did you see the man win? He was young and very strong. I saw him before,” Marquez said.

Marquez is a regular on the Vicksburg running scene and has participated and placed at the Chill in the Hills before. He plans to continue racing here in the future.

Josue Capir, 33, came in third place with a time of 41:51. This was his second time running at Chill in the Hills, after coming in second last year. The Mississippi Track Club runner said the new course was challenging.

“The hills are rough. I think there’s more hills,” Capir said.

The first woman to finish was Anda. The 27-year-old from Clinton said she started racing in August of last year, and this was her first Chill in the Hills.

She said she tried not to pay attention to the runners around her but instead quoted scripture to keep moving forward. She races for God.

“All thanks be to God. God is everything. God is our very breath. I run every single race for our heavenly father,” she said.

In addition to the spiritual aspects of running, Anda also said she enjoys endurance training and likes to sweat. She has been training for a triathlon, teaches yoga and lifts weights.

“It’s very freeing,” she said.

The one-mile fun run winner was 12-year-old Emmanuel Agyepong, with a time of 8:01. The top female and fifth overall finisher was 11-year-old Madelyn Roesch, who finished in 8:42. Both are from Vicksburg.