McDuffie unseats Oates in 10K at River City Classic

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; The 27th annual Natchez Community Hospital River City Classic was indeed a history-making event Saturday morning in downtown Natchez &045; and the memory of a former winner by a husband-and-wife duo that did quite well.

While the numbers were slightly down for the number of participants in the 10K run and 5K walk, the number of kids participating in the 1-mile fun run jumped up from 247 last year to 333 this year.

Not surprisingly, however, runners in the 10K run and walkers in the 5K walk from Vicksburg and Jackson dominated the event for the second straight year.

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Dwain McDuffie of Monroe, La., who hasn’t participated in the River City Classic in over a decade, finished in first place overall in the men’s 10K run with a time of 34:28, just 31 seconds ahead of last year’s winner, Rob Oates of Jackson.

&uot;My brother David wanted to run in it. I came over here with him,&uot; McDuffie said. &uot;I ran it a long time ago. Back in ’94. It (his time) was OK. I did a workout Thursday. I was a little weak. It was a nice run. Good weather.&uot;

Even though the number of runners in the 10K was down a little bit from last year, the times in the top three were pretty close.

Oates’ time was 34:59, 15 seconds faster than his winning time last year, and Max Loomis was third with a time of 35:27.

And David McDuffie finished first in the masters &045; men division with a time of 36:26, good enough for sixth overall.

Yolanda Brown of Jackson made her first trip to Natchez and the River City Classic a good one as she finished first in the women’s division of the 10K with a time of 45:17.

&uot;I was a bit nervous initially because of the hills,&uot; Brown said. &uot;But because I was anticipating it, I did well. It was fun. This is my first time in Natchez, so it was a great way to see it.&uot;

Brown put some distance between herself and last year’s female winner, Mary Lohrenz, also from Jackson, in the last half of the race to finish 45 seconds ahead of her.

&uot;I saw that she had won it previously,&uot; Brown said. &uot;About halfway through the race I saw her right on my heels. So I kept her on my mind the entire way.&uot;

&uot;It was slower than last year,&uot; Lohrenz said of her time, which was 46:02, &uot;but I’m glad Yolanda won. She’s an excellent runner. I say congratulations to her.&uot;

Miriam Allred was third overall in the women’s division of the 10K with a time of 47:54.

This also marks the first time that the male and female overall winners in the 10K run from the previous year finished second the next year.

The 5K walk turned out to be a family affair for the Cheneys from Vicksburg as Debbie finished first overall with a time of 26:48 and her husband David was the first male to cross the finish line with a time of 30:48.

Debbie finished first for the fourth year in a row, becoming only the second person, male or female, to do so. The other was Barbara Duplichain, who won the 5K four times from 1991-1994 and five times from 1997-2001.

&uot;We miss Barbara,&uot; David Cheney said. &uot;We wish she didn’t have to quit because of problems with her back.&uot;

As for his first-place finish, David said, &uot;I guess it feels alright. I don’t get many first-place finishes. I’ve been down here every year since ’94 and it (the course) hasn’t changed. It’s just as hard now as it was when we started in ’94. &uot;

&uot;I’m excited,&uot; Debbie Cheney said about finishing first again. &uot;I took quite a bit of time off this year, but I was excited about this. It was a bit cool. I like coming to Natchez. I enjoy being in this race. I just love race walking.&uot;

Tina Branan, also from Vicksburg, finished second overall with a time of 29:49.

Debbie Cheney said she was surprised she finished so far ahead of the field.

&uot;I never look back. If I win I win and if I don’t, I don’t,&uot; Debbie said. &uot;I always stay focused and see what time I can do.&uot;

&uot;This is my first time I ran in under 30:00,&uot; Branan said.