Blues Marathon has 15th annual race

Published 1:19 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Saturday saw the 15th renewal of the Mississippi Blues Marathon.

This year, for the second time, the race was run over a course in the Fondren and Belhaven areas of downtown Jackson, with a side excursion across Interstate 55 to Flowood. The result was a very hilly course.

As the weather was hot (for running) and the humidity very high, most of the finishing runners remarked about the hills and the heat. About 2,000 runners registered for the half and full marathon, and 1,429 actually finished and posted times.

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The only Natchez runner I found in the complete list of finishers was Mark Wiygul who ran in the half marathon. Another finisher in the half marathon was Luther Stowers of Brandon. Luther, who is my nephew, grew up in Natchez and attended Trinity.

Early in the bowl season, it looked like LSU had picked up some momentum for the Southeastern Conference. Vandy built on that momentum, as did Georgia, before South Carolina deflated the balloon.

Ole Miss’ surprisingly easy win over Texas Tech again boosted the SEC, and Kentucky’s win made it look like the conference was going to do well before Alabama found Utah too tough to handle.

Instead of “Roll, Tide” folks were saying, “Roll Over, Tide.” I realize all of the talk is going to be that Alabama would have won if they had been able to use that great left tackle, but I don’t think a dozen like him could have made a difference. Utah came ready, and Alabama did not.

I was particularly pleased with Kentucky’s win. The Wildcats overcame some really weird officiating to gain their Liberty Bowl win. There were some strange calls in several of the bowl games, but nothing approaching last season. I did actually see a horse collar foul called in one of the games. First time this season I have seen it called.

The SEC’s record through all but one game (Florida vs. Oklahoma) is 5-2. Until the Alabama game, I thought Florida was likely to win that game, but now I am not sure at all. A 6-2 bowl record for the SEC would be good, but could not match the Pac 10, which hasn’t lost a bowl game this season.

Pac 10 teams have won all five of the bowl games that conference teams are playing in, and Southern Cal looked very impressive in their win over Penn State.

I read or heard early in this bowl season that the team which rushes the ball for the most distance will likely win a bowl game. Through Saturday’s International Bowl, when winner Connecticut out gained loser Buffalo 358 yards to 24 yards on the ground, the winning teams had out gained the losers in 12 games, while the loser had more yardage on the ground in nine games. Seems pretty even to me.

A lot has been said about Oklahoma scoring over 60 points in five or six straight games. I have seen nothing about how many of those points were scored by the starters after the games were out of reach.

It would be interesting to see how much reserves played in those games. I think if Florida kept Tebow and other starters in many of their games, they could easily surpass 60 points.

And, that’s official.

Al Graning writes a weekly column for The Democrat. Contact him at