• 66°

Hurricane Delta postpones Over the River Run by one week

One of the biggest running events in the Mississippi Delta has been postponed because of the arrival of Hurricane Delta.

The 32nd annual Over the River Run, which was originally scheduled for Saturday morning, has been pushed back one week to Oct. 17 at 8 a.m., race director Stacey Mahoney said.

Hurricane Delta, which is expected to make landfall along the Louisiana coast Friday as a powerful Category 3 storm, is forecast to affect the Vicksburg area Friday night and Saturday. Mahoney said concerns for the safety of runners on the 5-mile course that crosses the Old Highway 80 Bridge over the Mississippi River led to the decision.

“It looked like it might be moving a little bit, but we figured if we didn’t get hit hard it was still going to cause us a lot of rain and wind,” Mahoney said. “The (Warren County) Sheriff’s Office also has officers in the water for safety, and they can’t put them out there if it’s windy and choppy. We said we’re just going to be safe.”

The postponement is the latest adjustment to a running event that is among the largest in Mississippi. As many as 800 runners and walkers have participated in past years, but because of COVID-19 restrictions this year’s field is limited to 400.

Mahoney said about 300 people have signed up so far, and was hopeful the extra week would give time to fill the remaining slots.

There will not be any race day registration. Early registration is open at the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, located at 1302 Adams St., or online through southernculture.org and raceroster.com.

Race packet pick-up will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, at the SCHF office.

The Over the River Run is a fundraiser for the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation. Mahoney is the SCHF’s director.

“Hopefully anyone who was looking at the forecast will take another look,” Mahoney said. “It’s going to be beautiful next weekend.”

The 400-person limit is for those actually running across the bridge. The SCHF will also have a “virtual” category that allows runners and walkers to do a 10K or 5K on their own and submit their times. The virtual entries will not count toward the 400 allowed on the course Saturday morning, but only the first 400 total entries will receive a race T-shirt with their $35 entry fee.

“We encourage people to register early, because we are limited this year,” Mahoney said. “There is a virtual category for those who are not ready to run in person yet. We know a lot of them are, because that’s mostly what’s coming in is in-person registrations. But we are offering two virtual categories — a 10K run or a 5K walk. They get a T-shirt as well.”

The postrace awards ceremony will take place at the Delta Point parking lot on Washington Street, as usual, but will not be accompanied by the party that traditionally goes along with it. The 1-mile children’s fun run that follows the 5-mile run and walk races has also been canceled.

Runners and walkers will leave the starting line in waves 10 to 20 to aid with social distancing. Electronic chip timing by MS Race Timing & Management, assisted by the Mississippi Track Club, will ensure that all competitors are on a fair footing.

Participants will also be asked to wear masks before and after the race, and maintain social distancing as much as possible on the course.

Many of the new rules, Mahoney said, had a dry run during the SCHF’s Star Spangled Night Run 5K in June. That was the first Mississippi Track Club event since the start of the pandemic in March, and the organization has refined some of its procedures since then.

Mahoney said the Night Run served as a good dry run for the much larger Over the River Run. A total of 124 people participated in June’s race, and three times that number are expected for this one.

“It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but not as much as you would think. We had our Night Run at the end of June. That’s a smaller run for us, so we got to practice these precautions because we were right in the middle of COVID during that time. That practice run went really smooth,” Mahoney said. “This is a bigger run, so we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to pull it off, but we did get our permission from the bridge to move forward. Then we’ve been working with the Mississippi Track Club and the Mississippi Timing Service to get those precautions, which they came up with and added to since our Night Run.”

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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.

email author More by Ernest