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Chill in the Hills celebrates lucky 13th anniversary Saturday

After two rain-plagued years, the organizers of the Chill in the Hills run came up with a contingency plan for 2021. It doesn’t look like they’ll need it, though.

Sunny skies and moderate temperatures in the 50s are in the forecast for Saturday morning, when the Chill in the Hills celebrates its lucky 13th anniversary in downtown Vicksburg. The 10K run and 5K race walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Martin’s at Midtown, 1101 Belmont St., with a 1-mile fun run to follow.

Rain and thunderstorms have affected the race the past two years and pushed attendance to about a third of its normal size both times. Race director Walter Frazier said the event has received a permit for an alternate date if it happens again this time, but was optimistic it wouldn’t be needed.

“We’ll take a wide range of weather beyond what we’ve experienced. If it’s threatening weather, with thunderstorms, or lightning or tornadoes, we’ll hold off,” Frazier said. “We have gotten approval to postpone it for two weeks if we need to. But there’s a 90 percent chance we’re going to do it on the 16th.”

The Chill in the Hills is the first of four major running events in Vicksburg each year, along with the Run Thru History in March, the Star Spangled Night Run in June, and the Over the River Run in October.

This year’s edition is a week later than normal, thanks to a quirk of the calendar. Frazier said it hasn’t spiked early registration — about 50 people were signed up as of late last week, and between 200 and 300 turn out most years — but it has helped to better coordinate the race.

“It helps with volunteer coordination, because schools are back in and volunteers are looking for service hours. We have more time to find them,” Frazier said.

The registration fee for the Chill in the Hills is $40 for the 10K run or 5K race walk. The 1-mile fun run is free. Online registration is open until midnight Friday at raceroster.com/events/2021/35570/chill-in-the-hills.

In-person registration and packet pickup will be available Friday, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Vicksburg Convention Center. Raceday registration is from 7 to 8:25 a.m. at Martin’s at Midtown.

Because of COVID-19, Frazier said this year’s race will have a few new wrinkles that have become common at many running events in Mississippi. Chip timing and a wave start will be used to encourage social distancing, and runners and walkers must wear masks until they actually begin the race.

A virtual category will also be included, where runners and walkers can register and then run on their own course. Prizes will be awarded in several subcategories for the virtual division.

“Because of COVID we are simultaneously doing a virtual race. We will have prizes for the virtual race such as the fastest mile in the run and walk. People can also compete for the highest elevation change in their run,” Frazier said. “That’s a COVID reality. A lot of races went to virtual categories.”

Frazier is also the director of Grace Christian Counseling, for which the Chill in the Hills serves as a fundraiser. Grace Christian Counseling offers professional counseling services with fees on a sliding scale for those in need.

Frazier said the money raised from the Chill in the Hills helps fund operations that have only gotten larger during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve doubled in size because of COVID. We’ve seen an uptick in business,” he said. “At the same time, we went virtual with our services and are now providing services in Mississippi and Louisiana. I have counselors from Corinth to Gulfport.”

Frazier added that the Chill in the Hills is an important fundraiser for Grace Christian Counseling.

“It is important, because all of our fundraising activities and grants are going to supplement fees for persons that are uninsured,” he said. “We’ve done a good job making sure people can meet with our counselors, and our counselors are not going unpaid.”

Chill in the Hills 10K
• Saturday, Jan. 16, 8:30 a.m., at Martin’s at Midtown
• The race will include a 10K run, 5K walk, and 1-mile fun run through downtown Vicksburg
• Online registration is open until midnight Friday at raceroster.com/events/2021/35570/chill-in-the-hills
• In-person registration will be open on Jan. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Vicksburg Convention Center, and from 7 to 8:25 a.m. on Jan. 16 at Martin’s.
• The entry fee is $40 for the 10K run or the 5K race walk. There is no charge for the children’s 1-mile fun run.
• For more information, contact Josh Carlucci at 601-529-2287 or gracecc@live.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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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