JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was redemption and a surprise on Saturday at the 42nd Gate River Run.
Shadrack Kipchirchir, 30, won the 42nd Gate River Run in 43 minutes, 41 seconds, edging Stanley Kebenei and two-time defending Gate champion Leonard Korir for his first win in the event.
Erika Kemp, 24, a former NC State athlete and a nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year in 2018, running in her first 15K, won the women's event in 50:54.
The redemption portion of the event was delivered by Kipchirchir, who had paid his dues in the run. He finished second twice, 2016 and ’18, beaten by the two men who he edged Saturday.
"I mean those guys … I was sick of them," Kipchirchir said. "Three years ago. [Kebenei] beat me by a microsecond. Then two years ago, Lenny outkicked by microseconds. Today I wanted to come and knock them in their head. That was my main aim."
Kebenei won the 2016 run in 44:37, just 2 seconds in front of Kipchirchir. Korir (43:23) won the 2018 Gate by 1 second over Kipchirchir. Korir was trying to become just the fifth male runner to win the event three consecutive years.
Six elite runners were within two seconds of each other with a mile to go on the Hart Bridge, Martin Hehir, Frankline Tonui, Kipchirchir, Kebenei and Korir.
Kebenei, Kipchirchir and Korir started puling away at the midway point of the Hart and those three kept together until the final stretch.
"I went to initiate the kick," Kipchirchir said. "I wanted to go in front and pick it up… and be controlling. I’m not a good hill runner. So I wanted to be in front control down the hill. So I let them initiate the kick. Take it home at the end.
This time, he nipped Kebenei (43:41) and Korir (43:42).
The race record, set in 1995 by Todd Williams (42:22), still stands.
For Kemp, the win was unexpected. She’s more of a shorter distance runner. She pulled away from Bethany Sachtleben (51:08) to win.
“Definitely a lot better than expected, [I've] never run a 15K, I feel better at 5K, so this was a great experience,” Kemp said. “As we were approaching the top of the hill I just kind of had, like a surge of energy. My stride felt better. I stood up a little taller and just realized If I could push this hill a little bit more and get some space on her, maybe I can keep that momentum going into the downhill and hold her off.”
Scott Brown won the handcycles category (42:36).
Steven Walker won the men's wheelchair quad event (1:08.42), while Laura Monger won the women's wheelchair event (1:05.16). Scott Brown (42:36) and Jon Montanaro (1:21.56) also won their events in the handcycle and wheelchair categories.
Click for results of all who finished the 42nd annual Gate River Run