Run Thru History celebrates 40th anniversary this weekend

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 1, 2019

The Run Thru History is hitting the Big 4-0.

Vicksburg’s first and biggest running event celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend with its traditional 10-kilometer run and 5-kilometer race walk in the Vicksburg National Military Park, as well as a number of historical presentations and other events.

It’s a milestone for the Run Thru History, which is the second-oldest event on the Mississippi Track Club’s statewide schedule. It has survived several changes in leadership, dips and dives in attendance, and changing fitness trends to survive — and thrive — when other runs have fallen by the wayside.

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“We’re standing on the shoulders of a lot of people who have made this possible,” said Vicksburg YMCA executive director Phillip Doiron, whose organization has directed the race since 2010. “Warner Byrum was the godfather of the race. He got it started and is the reason we have a race. Without him and people like Mack Varner and Robert Sadler who kept this thing going, it wouldn’t be here. But the biggest thing is the people in Vicksburg embraced it. It’s an event now.”

A two-day event at that.

The festivities begin Friday night at the Hampton Inn, 3330 Clay Street, which serves as race headquarters. From 5 to 8 p.m. a spaghetti dinner will be served for all runners and walkers who have registered, and they can also pick up their race packets and swag bags then as well.

Race registration will be open then, as well as Saturday morning from 7 to 7:45 a.m. at the Hampton Inn. The entry fee is $30 for the 10K and 5K, while the children’s Cannonball Run 1-miler is free.

The fun isn’t just limited to running-related activities, either. VNMP chief of historical interpretation Scott Rabinowitch will give several presentations during Friday’s dinner, and there will be a number of Civil War living history exhibits in the park before, during and after the race.

A volley of musket fire will serve as the starting gun for the 10K and 5K, and a cannon shot will begin the 1-mile fun run. Runners and walkers are also invited to take a guided bus tour of the VNMP after the race. Tours will begin at 11 a.m. and continue into the afternoon. The tours are included with the race entry fee, but registration is required.

“We’ve tried to have a closer partnership with the Park to emphasize the history,” Doiron said.

The living history exhibits will include a Civil War surgeon. Doiron joked that race organizers considered incorporating it into the race itself, but ultimately decided against it.

“We tried to make that the first aid tent, but we thought that might scare people,” he laughed.

Other, more recent history and traditions are also a theme for this anniversary race. The logo on the event’s T-shirts is the one from the inaugural race in 1980. After the race, the Run Thru History’s famous after party will include hot dogs, beer and Vicksburg band The Chill, just as it has for years.

“We’ll have those famous Run Thru History hot dogs,” Doiron said with a laugh.

They’ll also have a lot of guests. More than 750 people have pre-registered for the Run Thru History. Doiron said if the weather is good on Saturday morning to help boost walk-up registration, the final total could approach record levels.

“We are right at about 760 people. That’s exciting being this far out,” Doiron said on Wednesday evening. “Last year we had 836, and if we get good weather we’ll exceed that. If it’s a pretty day, we’ll have a pretty good turnout.”

The 40th annual Run Thru History 10K run, 5K race walk and children’s Cannonball Run 1-mile fun run is Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Vicksburg National Military Park.
arly packet pickup, a spaghetti dinner for runners and walkers, and a historical presentation will be held from 5-8 p.m. Friday at the Hampton Inn, 3330 Clay Street. Raceday registration is open from 7 to 7:45 a.m. Saturday at Hampton Inn. The entry fee is $30 for the 10K and 5K. The 1-miler is free.

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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