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River City Run helps raise awareness for healthy living in kids

David Hefley approaches the finish line during the 10K run as part of the Junior Auxiliary River City Run for the Kids on Saturday morning in Natchez. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
David Hefley approaches the finish line during the 10K run as part of the Junior Auxiliary River City Run for the Kids on Saturday morning in Natchez. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — People of all ages converged on downtown Natchez on an absolutely beautiful Saturday morning for the 2013 Natchez Junior Auxiliary River City Run for the Kids.

There were more than 100 participants combined in the 10K run (6.2 miles) and the 5K walk (3.1 miles). One of the adults in this year’s 10K run was Natchez resident Kevin Smith Sr., who said he has participated in all but three River City Runs since the 1970s.

“I’m just blessed to run at age 65,” Smith said. “These young ladies work hard on many projects for their various charities that they support.”

Smith added that he is part of a group that walks and runs on a regular basis.

Allen Laird of Natchez said this is his third or fourth time participating in this event.

“I enjoy it a lot,” Laird said. “I run regularly.”

More than 150 young runners sprint from the starting line during the 1-mile fun run. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
More than 150 young runners sprint from the starting line during the 1-mile fun run. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Laird said that the cause for this event being to promote healthy living for children in the Miss-Lou is “a great cause.”

Andrew Hale and Vidal Davis, both Natchez residents, echoed that sentiment and then some.

“It’s very important. The majority of the children don’t get enough exercise or don’t get out of the house enough. That’s today’s generation,” Andrew Hale said.

“I think it’s very important. People have become glued to their computers, televisions and Playstations. Kids have become lethargic. This is an opportunity for them to do something healthy.”

Added Andrew’s wife Jennifer: “We have a four-year-old who thinks the one-mile fun run is a big deal.”

Davis said this is the first time in several years he’s competed in this event after having done so 10 or 12 times.

“My wife, Tanna, decided to run for the first time this year. We’re both doing the 5K,” Vidal said.

And then there was Natchez resident Jennifer Mire, who participated in the 10K run and had another reason for doing this.

“I was running for the people in Boston. I was supposed to run in the Boston Marathon (last Monday),” Mire said. “I just thought I’d bring all my children out here.”

Mire won the women’s 10K run in a time of 47 minutes and 36 seconds.

Natchez Junior Auxiliary President Tiffany Kyzar said she was quite pleased with both the turnout and the weather.

“We had 150 kids pre-registered and about 60 adults pre-registered. We probably had about 40 more adults registered. I don’t know about the kids. I think we had a good turnout,” Kyzar said. “The weather is beautiful. We used to have this in February. It was either cold or raining in February.”

Another reason for moving the race from February to April, Kyzar said, was to combine it with the JA Shrimp Boil.

“The Shrimp Boil is a fundraiser. It funds what we do all year,” Kyzar said. “We’ve changed this from a fundraiser to a service project. It’s more about healthy kids. We only charged the kids $2 to get more participants. We used to charge $5. Just to kind of break even and cover the costs”

Blake Montpelier, a seventh-grader at Florence Middle School, won the men’s 5K walk in 23 minutes and four seconds.

As for his impressions on the course, Montpelier said, “A little hilly, not much. It was mostly flat. This is my first time running. I didn’t really know what to expect.”

Amanda Webb of Fort Polk, La. came in first on the women’s side in 26:36 minutes.

“I enjoyed it very much. A combination of hilly and flat. Not overly hilly. Right amount of shade. Limited traffic. Very nice area to run through. The volunteers did a good job at putting everyone at the right intersections.”

Natchez native David Hefley, who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., won the men’s 10K run in 39:04 minutes.

“The course is the same as it always is. The weather was perfect. It was good running weather,” Hefley said. “I enjoyed the escort from the Natchez Police Department. I felt good through the first 4 miles. The last 2 miles I slowed down a little bit. I thought there would be more competition.”

As for the course itself, Mire said, “It was a great course. The last hill is always a challenge. My friends said a long time ago you have to attack the hills.”

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