Kazery adds Chill title to his trophy case

Published 10:01 pm Saturday, January 13, 2018

By Cody Thomason
The Vicksburg Post

The 10th annual Chill in the Hills lived up to its name in 2018 as the temperature was a frigid 25 degrees when the runners sprinted off the starting line and onto the course.

The Chill in the Hills started at Martin’s at Midtown and, as always, was a benefit for Grace Christian Counseling Center. The runners bundled up as best they could in the freezing weather, and volunteers had hot coffee and pizza to rejuvenate the competitors after they finished their race.

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The winner for the 10K run was 26-year-old Clinton native Peter Kazery, who eschewed the winter dress most of the other runners wore and chose to run in shorts and a tank top. Kazery got off to a blistering start and never let go, easily taking home the victory.

It was Kazery’s first time competing in the race, although he has previously won Vicksburg’s other major road races The Run Thru History and Over the River Run.

Kazery’s brother William won the Chill in the Hills 10K last year.

“I don’t think there was anybody close to me the whole race,” Kazery said. “I was just trying to finish strong. I was kind of using this as a warm-up for the Mississippi Blues Marathon, because the Blues Marathon is really hilly and it’s hilly here, so it’s a good way to kind of relate the courses.”

The Mississippi Blues Marathon is Jan. 27 in Jackson.

40-year old Patty Singley from Delhi, La., finished first in the 10K’s women’s division. She passed a runner in the second mile, and then maintained her lead for the duration of the race.

“I was glad I was done, because it was so cold,” Singley said. “It was great, I enjoyed it. I enjoy running hills.”

The finishes in the 5K walk were a little tighter, as 58-year old Vicksburg resident Steve Pranger finished first overall. It was Pranger’s third time competing at the 5K walk and his first win at the Chill in the Hills.

Pranger edged runner-up Keith Guy by less than 10 seconds to claim the victory.

“It was just trying to go out fast and stay warm, mainly,” Pranger said. “Keith Guy is a great race walker, so he and I were basically battling the whole race back and forth, so I just really tried to keep up with him, and keep a good pace and try to get in here as fast as possible and out of the cold.”

The women’s 5K was close as well, as 40-year old Jennifer Mallard of Tallulah narrowly winning a race that went to the wire. Mallard crossed the line just ahead of Vicksburg’s Elizabeth Joiner.

“Elizabeth Joiner is a really good race walker, and I knew when I started out I needed to pace with her today, it was so cold and I needed something to focus on,” Mallard said. “So we kind of went back and forth throughout the route, and at the end we were coming up the hill and she was ahead of me, then when we were right at the turn on the straight stretch I felt like if I just gave one more burst I could get her at the end, and so I came in right ahead of her at the finish line. It was exhilarating.”

The 1-mile fun run was won by siblings April-Kristen and Yeshua Agyepong.

The cold definitely scared off some prospective competitors — around 200 runners and walkers completed the race — but a brave bunch still endured the elements early on Saturday morning.

“This is definitely a little more challenging on your muscles and your mental state, trying to go in this cold,” Joiner said.

Kazery said the cold was rough, but was doable with the right planning.

“I kept my hands and my head warm and I was good,” Kazery said. “It’s really not too bad, you just have to warm up really good and just know what you’re getting into. If anything, the wind is kind of bad, but I wouldn’t blame too much about the weather.”