Gate River Run Expo opens Thursday

Expo serves as official start of biggest 15K race in the country

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Gate River Run Expo opens Thursday for thousands of runners to pick up their packets for Saturday's race.

A record turnout is expected at the expo and at the 36th annual race.

Participants can pick up their T-shirts and bib numbers starting at 11 a.m. Thursday, and even people not taking part in the race can browse the 88 vendors that will be at the expo at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds.

Like the race itself, the expo has become a large part of one of the country's largest 15K events.

"We've had a waiting list and we've had to turn people away this year, too," assistant race director Jane Alred said. "Even today, people were emailing me do you have any spaces left? You know, we've been sold out for a while now."

Companies like Nike and Adidas will be among 88 top vendors showcasing their latest running products and technology.

In addition to products being sold, several medical vendors will be there, too.

"So they can get, you know, free blood pressure, cholesterol, different checks, learn CPR, get information if they have any running injuries," Alred said. "We have a couple therapy companies, a couple orthopedist practices, some chiropractors."

Special section:  Gate River Run

The first River Run was in 1978. Shortly after, in 1983, the race director came up with the expo idea.

"It started off very small in one of the hotels, just in their ballroom," Alred said. "It grew to another area that was bigger, and we had it, I think, at the old Hilton hotel in the basement there for a while. And then it has just grown so much."

If you're not participating in the race, the expo is still a good place to find bargains and great advice.

"Even if you're not running, it's a great time to come down," Alred said. "A number of people do every year because they know that a lot of the new products here in this area are going to be at a discount."

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