TUPELO The chance to get out and break a sweat early Saturday morning proved irresistible for runners in the 35th annual Green Street Mile.

Mississippi State’s Slater Richardson, from Starkville, won for the second time in four years as he led a field of 126 competitors in 4 minutes, 30 seconds. MSU teammate Benjamin Craw (4:31) and TCPS cross country standout Brock Kelly (4:32) were close behind.

In the women’s race, Saltillo high schooler Madison Jones, running in the July 4 tradition for the first time, led the way in 5:32, outkicking Mississippi State’s Audrey Honiotes (5:33).

It was warm and humid when the race on South Green began promptly at 7 a.m. Richardson, 20, improved on his winning time of 4:44 from three years ago.

“It’s fun to find a race like this in the summer,” Richardson said. “There’s no strategy, it’s just man vs. man.”

Keeping up

Having Kelly – Mississippi’s 2019 Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the year – in the field had the attention of Richardson and his teammates. “I knew Brock, being from here, would want to take it out,” he said. “We knew we needed to keep up.”

Women’s winner Jones, 17, a veteran of big high school and junior races, said she cherished the opportunity to get out and compete. “It’s so nice to get out and run a real race,” she said. “At this distance, it’s really just a test of fitness.”

Staying in shape has been a focus for college runners such as Richardson, who has been training since the shutdown with teammates. “We just tried to keep things as normal as possible,” he said.

The Tupelo Running Club event also attracted a lively crowd at the finish line, most of whom stuck around to cheer as the final runner, youngster Ever Leigh, crossed the finish line in 17:46 with a Tupelo Police escort bringing up the rear.

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