Sports column: Run Thru History is a great tradition for Vicksburg

Published 11:00 am Sunday, February 26, 2023

Some years ago, at the packet pick-up the night before the Run Thru History, race organizers had collected as many of the T-shirts from past editions as they could find.

It was an interesting and impressive collection. Shirt designs from the 1980s through the 2000s were represented, 20 or 30 in all. Charting the evolution of a long-running event in such a visual way was a treat and brought home one of the small ways this event has become part of the — no pun intended — fabric of Vicksburg.

Since its inception in 1980, the Run Thru History has become a waypoint on the calendar. The actual date fluctuates, but the first Saturday morning in March is always reserved for the 10-kilometer run and 5-kilometer race walk in the Vicksburg National Military Park. This year’s race is set for next Saturday, March 4, at 8 a.m.

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Conquering the Park’s hills is a personal goal for many, our own local version of climbing Mount Everest. Getting a little toy cannon for winning an age group or bigger division is an even bigger accomplishment.

“It’s almost a rite of passage getting your cannon,” said Phillip Doiron, the executive director of the Vicksburg YMCA which organizes the Run Thru History. “But it’s not going to happen for everybody. I want everybody to feel good about themselves.”

That’s the true beauty of the Run Thru History. It’s not just about finishing first, if it’s about that at all for most people. It’s as much about the little moments and miniature traditions wrapped inside the bigger event that keep people coming back year after year.

Downing hot dogs and beer at the after-party while The Chill plays old cover tunes has surely created as many memories as running the race itself.

As an aside, I’ll never forget seeing a Jefferson Davis re-enactor chowing down on a hot dog at the after-party. The guy who had been cosplaying the Confederate president for the past few hours, standing alongside his wife with both in full period garb, breaking character for a moment remains one of my all-time favorite Vicksburg Post pictures from the Run Thru History. I imagine it’s what people felt like the first time they saw KISS without makeup.

Getting back on topic, those little moments and extras are what make the Run Thru History so special for Vicksburg. The T-shirts are another part of it. Wearing one from time to time is to show membership in a club. Doiron said making them of a high quality, so they’ll last for years — maybe even long enough to be displayed at some future anniversary celebration — is important.

“We’re putting a lot of effort into our shirts. We have long-sleeve technical shirts now,” he said. “We try to do a lot of things for the everyman runner. We try to do things that everybody who participates can take home. It’s more a celebration of Vicksburg and spring than it is a race.”

Indeed it is. The Run Thru History turns 44 this year and, much like those who run at the front of the pack, is showing no signs of slowing down. Here’s hoping there are 100 T-shirts to show off some day.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

• Saturday, March 4, 8 a.m.
• 10K run, 5K race walk and 1-mile children’s fun run in the Vicksburg National Military Park
• Registration fee is $30 by Feb. 27, or $35 after
• To register or information, visit,, or go in person to the Purks YMCA off East Clay Street

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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