Ben True, Cherobon finish 1st in Gate River Run
More than 17,000 attend 36th annual 15K Gate River Run
With 17,454 mostly local, recreational runners running the roads and bridges of downtown, San Marco and St. Nicholas, one man and one woman crossing the finish line claim the USA 15K championships.
Ben True, 27, of Hanover, N.H., finised at 43:38 -- 34 seconds and seven places ahead of last year's winner, Mo Trafeh.
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True finished three seconds ahead of 26-year-old Bobby Curtis in a sprint to the finish.
"I was hoping I had enough to get past Bobby because I know Bobby is a fast finisher," True said. "I ran here two years ago and became runner up, and it was nice to come back here now and be able to win it."
Janet Cherobon, 34, of Flagstaff, Ariz., crossed the finish line first for the second year in a row, thanks to the 6:35 "equalizer" head start. With an official time of 49:44, she'll win a $5,000 bonus in addition to her share of the $53,000 in prize money available in the USA 15K Championships.
Two miles out -- just before tackling the Hart Bridge -- Cherobon was confident enough she was seen high-fiving spectators.
"You cannot hold back. You see the little kids and they're so exited -- they know you by name. How can you pass that?" Cherobon said.
For many of more than 10,000 area runners -- 1,000 more women then men -- Saturday was their biggest race of the year.
RESULTS: All 15,569 finishers | By age group
The top Jacksonville finishers were Ryan Sloan, 25, and Kim Pawelek-Brantly, 39, of Jacksonville.
"Look at all the smiles," Channel 4's Richard Nunn (1:13:16) said during a brief stop while making the turn on Hendricks Avenue on the 15K course. "We've seen everything from people wrapped up from head to toe, to tutus, to barely-there outfits."
Plus hundreds more just come out just to support those on the course.
Channel 4's Hailey Winslow (1:21:23) said the bands and people cheering on the runners makes it easy to find motivation to finish.
"There's so much support out there, it makes you happy to be alive," Winslow said.
In addition to the 15K, thousands more participated in the Florida Times-Union 5K Run & Walk for Charity; the Adidas Junior River Run (1 mile) for children 13 and under; the Brooks Rehab Challenge Mile for challenged athletes or the Diaper Dash for those under age 4.
Top finishers in the 5K were brother and sister Conner Holmes, 15, and Shannon Holmes, 23, of Jacksonville.
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