Runners celebrate the 4th with a 5K - - Jackson, MS

Runners celebrate the 4th with a 5K

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Hundreds of runners and walkers beat the pavement to start off this Fourth of July.

"Today is all about fun, our family tries to do this each year," racer Melissa Hudgens told WLBT.

In the spirit of fun, Hudgens and her racing partners came decked out in Statue of Liberty outfits. Hudgens said the "Watermelon Classic," signifies her freedom.

"Not too many countries have the freedom to get out and do things like this, gather like this a big group and that's pretty important to us and we don't want to take that for granted," said Hudgens.

The turnout for this year's "Watermelon Classic" reached an all time high. Nearly 1,800 people registered Fourth of July tradition.

Race organizer Margaret White said 1,772 racers registered. White thinks the record turnout suggests Mississippians are fed up with being known as the fattest state in the country.

"It's great that so many people are exercising and getting off the couch," said White.

Exercise has always been part of Martha Keenum's routine. She's participated in the race for more than two decades and doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.

"In September I'll be 76 years old, I've been doing this race walking for about 22 years," Keenum told WLBT.

It took the fastest runners just under 20 minutes to cross the finish line.

"I was excited I wasn't expecting to get in third," said runner Curt Knight.

After all of the hard work racers enjoyed some ice cold watermelon. All proceeds for from the race benefit the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Copyright WLBT 2012. All rights reserved.

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