Sports column: Run Thru History bookends the Age of COVID

Published 2:03 pm Friday, March 4, 2022

The Run Thru History has been a lot of things for Vicksburg in its four-plus decades of existence.

It’s a party. A fitness goal. A family reunion. An excuse to consume beer and free hot dogs.

Over the last two years, cultural milestone — or touchstone might be a better description — has been added to that list as it and other running events in Vicksburg have paralleled our progress through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Run Thru History was perhaps the last major public event in Vicksburg before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Months of chaos and uncertainty began just a few days later, making that year’s Run Thru History a memory of the “old days.”

That summer, the Southern Cultural Heritage Center’s Star Spangled Night Run marked our first tentative steps out of the darkness. Only a hundred or so people participated, but it was one of the first large public gatherings not only in Vicksburg but in Mississippi.

By the time the fall running season began with the Over the River Run in October 2020, we were figuring things out. Wave starts, limited fields, masks and social distancing were a compromise between safety from the virus and the desire to start doing things again. A hurricane, and not COVID, caused the race to be delayed by a week.

That pattern continued to evolve over the course of 2021 with a half-dozen more 5Ks and 10Ks in the city.

A year into the pandemic, the Run Thru History was held with few limitations but in a different location because its traditional home in the Vicksburg National Military Park was closed.

Finally, on Saturday, the Run Thru History is back in almost all of its glory. It will return to the Military Park, with several hundred runners and walkers ready to tackle the hills and earn their beer and hot dogs at the postrace party. The race begins at 8 a.m., and there’s still time to sign up Friday until 7 p.m. or Saturday from 7 to 8 a.m. at the Hampton Inn on Clay Street across from the Park.

Even hardened COVID warriors have recently seemed to admit that we’ve got to learn to live and deal with COVID as a persistent presence in our lives. It’s time to start living again, if it wasn’t already time for that months ago, and the 2022 Run Thru History was the perfect way to usher in a new era or a rebirth of local civilization.

The Run Thru History, then, has added — hopefully — “bookend” to all of its other descriptions. It was the last event before two years of darkness, and a community celebration as we finally start to put all of that behind us.

It appears we’ll be dealing with spikes and dips in the number of COVID cases for years to come, and if that’s the case then we need to figure out a way to live with it. What better way than just living, and celebrating the good things?

The Run Thru History, in many ways, is a celebration of that idea that goes far beyond running or walking a few miles on a Saturday morning.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached atm ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

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 139-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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