Hammons, Hall add to Over the River Run trophy collections

Published 1:18 pm Saturday, October 9, 2021

It’s uncertain how many more race victories Caleb Hammons and Kristi Hall have in their strong but aging legs. All they know is that it’s worth savoring each and every one that they get.

The 39-year-old Hammons finished nearly three minutes ahead of his nearest competitor to win the Over the River Run for the third time on Saturday morning, while the 43-year-old Hall claimed her eighth women’s championship.

Hammons clocked a time of 29 minutes, 5 seconds, on the 5-mile course across the Old Mississippi River Bridge and back. Hall crossed the finish line in 36:11.

Hammons was 2 minutes and 50 seconds ahead of runner-up Ken Newburger, and Stephen Brown finished third overall in 32:47.

“It’s always good to get a win. It motivates you to keep training,” Hammons said. “It’s been a rough month, month and a half, getting sick and then trying to get out here and race. I love the race and it’ll keep me motivated to get past being sick.”

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Hall finished seventh overall and 56 seconds ahead of runner-up Hendrix Eldridge, a seventh-grader at St. Aloysius. Afterward, Hall said Eldridge is the future and she was just happy to snipe a win while she still can.

“I figure this will probably be my last time (to win), so I might as well enjoy it,” laughed Hall, who won for the first time since 2016. “I was hoping to be under 36, but these days I’ll take whatever I can get.”

A calm, cool morning led to some solid times — or at least a more enjoyable experience — for the 251 runners and walkers who participated in the event, which is a fundraiser for the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation and is in its 33rd year.

Hammons, a former Ole Miss cross country runner, paced himself at the beginning and overtook the pack on the return trip across the Mississippi River. He went on to easily add the 2021 championship to the ones he claimed in 2008 and 2015. He finished third last year.

“There was a group in the first mile taking off together, and then it started evening out after that,” Hammons said. “I started out fast. I just leaned into it the first three, 3 1/2 miles, and then I started hurting pretty bad. With about a mile and a half to go I was really working. I was dropping off pace and trying to maintain as much of it as I could.”

Hall has more than a dozen trophies from Vicksburg’s various Mississippi Track Club events, but the Over the River Run has been one she’s been near the front of for a long time. She’d finished second in the 5-mile run twice since her last victory.

“Going fast is a lot harder,” she said. “I never surprise myself, like that was a fast time, but it’s a lot more work.”

In the 5-mile race walk, Larry Robinson kept his stranglehold on the top of the results sheet. The 51-year-old from Forest clocked a time of 49:31, seven minutes faster than runner-up Angel Curry, to win the event for the fourth year in a row and ninth time overall.

Curry won the women’s championship for the sixth time, with a winning mark of 56:32.

Steve Pranger was third overall in 57:20, while Elizabeth Joyner (59:22) and 2019 women’s champion Jennifer Mallard (59:33) rounded out the top five.

“There was no wind. It wasn’t cold. The weather is everything,” Robinson said. “My aim every year is to get under 50. With the weather conditions we’ve had for the past three years, I couldn’t do it. The wind was always in my face. This time there were no excuses.”

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.

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