This one is #1 on the list for a reason - it is truly the best of the best when it comes to events in Jacksonville.
For 39 years (hear that? Next year is the 40th running, so be ready for it!), the Gate River Run has been a big deal here in Jacksonville. Today, it is the USA 15K Championship, and it's basically the biggest running event of the year. In the past, running legends like Shalane Flanagan, Meb Keflezighi, Bill Rodgers, and Joan Benoit have won.
For us "regular" runners, Gate is a huge party, and is well worth the (pretty low) price of admission.
The weekend starts off with the two day expo. With 20,000 people running, the smart people at 1st Place Sports move packet pickup to the Fairgrounds. There are plenty of vendors...
And running stars to see while you grab your packet, shirt, and free pint glass. I got to meet Dane Rauschenberg, an all around awesome runner, author, and blogger who I have known through social media for a few years now.
One of the cool things about the Gate River Run is that it really is a race for everyone. There are different waves, and walkers are more than welcome. As a runner, I really love how it starts on time, not 45 minutes past the time advertised.
The run starts at EverBank Field, goes through parts of downtown, and then hits the Main Street Bridge before weaving through San Marco. With all of the people running, the locals really do their part to come out and cheer everyone on. Sometimes I get deterred when I'm running a race and there aren't many crowds around, but that's not an issue with Gate. People were handing out sausages, donuts, beers, ice pops, and a million other things! Since it was about 8,000 degrees (estimated), we needed all the help we could get.
The best (just kidding) part of the race comes at about mile 7.5, where you get to run over the Hart Bridge. This bridge (The Green Monster) is killer, but if you look closely enough, you do get a pretty badass view of Jacksonville from the top. I was definitely humbled by a lack of training (a combo of laziness and injury), but I'll still come back and do Gate every year. The top 10% of finishers get a special logo hat, and next year, I'm gunning for one - and so should you!
I'm Jenn! I'm a baker, blogger, sorta-runner, and writer living in Jacksonville, Florida!