JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

It's expected that a record 20,000 will register for the 36th annual Gate River Run 15K, and thousands more are expected to participate in one of four other races that are part of Saturday's event.

Race director Doug Alred says this could potentially be the 12th consecutive year of growth for the event -- Jacksonville’s largest participatory sporting event and the largest 15K in the United States.

In addition, this year’s elite field is one of the strongest ever, with six Olympians and six former Gate River Run champions.  As the USA 15K Championship and with $85,000 in prize money, the event always draws a strong field of competitors.

The top 5,000 runners will be seeded again this year to start in the front. The Equalizer Bonus will again award $5,000 to either the first male or female finisher to cross the finish line. The Gate River Run is the site of both the men’s and women’s 15K American records and is a Runner’s World ‘Top 100 Event.’

Online registration ended Tuesday.  If the number signed up for the 15K is under the 20,000 cap, registrations will be accepted at the Race Expo at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

Running legend Bill Rodgers will make expo appearances. Runners may also bring their used shoes and T-shirts to the expo, where they will be collected and donated to two local charities.

The 15K starts on Gator Bowl Boulevard between EverBank Field and Metropolitan Park, and finishes adjacent to EverBank Field. The 5K starts and finishes on Duval Street in front of the Fairgrounds. 

Runners will hear 12 bands along the course at every mile and each 15K finisher will receive a medal. 

The 15K will be covered live during Channel 4's Morning Show on Saturday, and live coverage will be projected on Jumbotrons so runners can see themselves finish the race.

A large post-race party will be held at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds.

The day offers something for everyone: The Florida Times-Union 5K (3.1 miles) Run & Walk for Charity at 8:30 am; 15K (9.3 miles) National Championship at 8:30 am; Adidas Junior River Run (1 mile) for children 13 and under; Brooks Rehab Challenge Mile for challenged athletes at 10:30 am; Diaper Dashes for up to age 4 and a three-day Fitness Expo. All events begin and end at the Jacksonville Sports Complex.

Additional information is available at Gate-RriverRun.com or at 904-731-1900.