Greenville teenager Oniyah Robinson woke up bright and early Saturday morning to volunteer her time for the Mississippi River Marathon.
Robinson, and her friends with the Greenville Mayor’s Youth Council, wrapped achievement medals around runners as they finished the full and half marathons. Like the hundreds of local volunteers spread throughout the 26-mile course, Robinson also gave the runners a few words of encouragement as they passed by.
“It was important for us to help out,” Robinson said. “This race is important for our community, and we came out to let the runners know how much we appreciate them.”
Mississippi Marathon Race Director John Conner called this year’s race, the eighth addition, the best yet.
“I think this was the best weather we have had in the eight years of the race,” Conner said of the event which was bathed throughout with sunshine and completed in temperatures nearing the 50-degree mark.
Runners from all over the Southeast, plus a few from states thousands of miles away, got a picturesque view of Washington County as they competed in the race, which began in Lake Village.
A total of 167 runners raced in the full marathon, 246 raced in the half marathon and 116 ran in the 5K.
Justin Leach, of Birmingham, Ala., won the men’s division of the full marathon with a time of 2:37:58. Leach, 32, said he was proud of his victory, and said he was thankful to all the local volunteers who made the event possible.
“I liked how flat it was, and I enjoyed being able to see the river,” Leach said. “It was a pretty view looking out towards the county side.”
After the race, Leach refueled by eating a Shipley Donut, which, along with hot tamales from Doe’s Eat Place, were two of the most popular refreshments handed out by local volunteers who greeted the exhausted competitors inside of the Leyser Gallery.
Like Leach, Greenville resident Anna Maurer also ran a superb race Saturday. Maurer’s time of 1:38.20 was good enough for second place in the women’s division of the half marathon. Allison Stokes of Memphis won the women’s half marathon, finishing in second place overall just behind 18-year-old Owen Hill of Ripley, Miss.
“It was not my fastest time ever, but I am happy with the result, and it was a great experience,” Maurer said.
Maurer, 24, raced in college at Washington University and is currently volunteering her expertise as an assistant coach for the Greenville High School track and cross country teams. She is planning on attending medical school next year.
One of the athlete’s Maurer helps coach at Greenville High School is 10th grader Myisha Turner, who also competed in the half marathon Saturday. While Turner was running, her mother, Greenville High School head track coach Monica Turner, was tracking her every step using the GPS on her phone.
“Myisha is doing really well today, and I am very proud of her,” Coach Turner said.
Coach Turner’s son, Jacob Turner, also raced Saturday. Jacob Turner, a seventh grader at T.L. Weston Middle School, said he was pleased with his performance in the 5K run and is considering running in the half marathon in the next few years.
“I like to run because I get to see the world from a different perspective,” Jacob Turner said. “If you only see the world from the window of your car, you miss a lot.”