British Invasion: UK couple sweeps Over the River Run championships

Published 8:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2018

The British are coming! The British are coming!

Right across the finish line to collect their trophies.

The husband and wife team of Oliver and Laura Childs, British citizens on assignment in Vicksburg with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, swept the men’s and women’s championships Saturday at the 30th annual Over the River Run 5-mile run.

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Oliver Child won the men’s and overall title with a time of 30 minutes, 27 seconds, while Laura was third overall and first in the women’s division with a time of 31:40 in the race that takes runners and walkers across the Old Mississippi River Bridge and back.

It was their second straight sweep of a Vicksburg road race. They also did it at ERDC’s Mad Scientist 5K in September. They’re planning to run the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., later this month.

“When we did it at the Mad Scientist, it was really nice. To do it again today is wonderful,” Oliver Child said. “I’m more proud of what Laura has done. When we run the Marine Corps Marathon, we’re going to run it together. It shows our fitness is really about the same.”

The couple’s assignment in Vicksburg ends next summer, so this will be their only time to compete in the Over the River Run.

“This was our first. Our only time,” Laura Child said with a laugh.

Oliver Child won the overall championship fairly easily, beating runner-up Daniel Vaughan by 28 seconds. Laura Child was third, and 2016 champion Armando Marquez was fourth in 31:48.

Vicksburg native Keri Frazier finished fifth overall and second in the women’s division with a time of 32:29.
Oliver Child said he gained the separation he needed with about a mile to go by using a bit of psychological warfare. When Vaughan closed to within a few feet, Child sped up just a bit to maintain his lead. It was a gamble that paid off.

“We separated at about the four-mile point. We turned, we ran together for about a mile and a half, and there was a moment where he dropped on my shoulder and I heard his breathing,” Oliver Child said. “I played a little psychological game on him. When I saw a chink in his armor I was able to push just 10 meters on him and was able to control the rest of the way. It could have easily gone the other way. If I’d shown weakness, I think he’d have gotten me.”

In the 5-mile race walk, a couple of former champions once again rose to the top.

Larry Robinson of Forest won his fifth Over the River Run overall championship with a time of 48:24, and Angel Curry of Rayville, La., won her fourth women’s title in 54:34. Curry finished second overall. Vicksburg resident Steve Pranger was third in 54:56.

“It’s fun every time. It doesn’t get any easier,” the 54-year-old Curry said.

It was a triumphant return for Robinson. This was his first time competing in the Over the River Run since having hip surgery two years ago. The 48-year-old said he wanted to make it back for the race’s 30th anniversary since he had won the 25th edition.

“I love it. I love the plaque. You get trophies a lot of places, but I think they’ve got the best plaques anywhere. And then with it being the 30th anniversary I wanted to come and get the 30th anniversary plaque because I won the 25th,” Robinson said.

Robinson, who is one of the best race walkers in the state, added that he was quite pleased with his time as well as his finish.

“Since I’ve gotten older I was just trying to get under 50 (minutes). I didn’t think I could still do 48. The last time I did it I did 47-something. I’m happy with the result,” he said.

Nine-year-old Oden Henderson won the children’s 1-mile fun run with a time of 7:05, eight seconds ahead of runner-up Jonah Artman.

Eight-year-old Addison Bednar won the girls’ 1-miler with a time of 8:39.

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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