JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are be a few changes for the Gate River Run this year, and certainly the most noticeable is a new location for the starting line. Early work on the demolition of the Hart Bridge ramp forced organizers to move the starting line two blocks north -- from Bay Street to Duval Street.
Race Director Doug Alred said it has been a logistical challenge.
“It’s kind of been an ongoing issue for us. We have been trying to determine whether the construction at the stadium where they are tearing down the ramps was going to affect the race,” said Alred. “It was going back-and-forth, so we finally just decided we are just going to go ahead and make the move over to Duval Street and off of Gator Bowl Boulevard (Bay Street)."
Runners will take a new route for the first mile of the race. Alred said the new starting line will be closer to the finish line than ever before.
“It’s kind of going to be interesting because it’s going to be a little bit more convenient for everybody because we are not so spread out.," Alred said. “The bad part of it is, it is going to jam a lot more people in real close together (rather) than being spread out.”
Runners at the starting line might feel packed into Duval Street because the road is not as wide as Bay Street.
Also, as a result of relocating the starting line, the 5K race -- which usually starts at the same time as the 15K -- will now start 30 minutes later.
The good news is the ramp demolition project shouldn’t affect parking for racers or spectators, although there could be challenges in how people get downtown on the morning of the race. Alred recommends arriving early.
“I tell people, if you run races during the year, don’t come to this race thinking it is like one of those other races because when you come to Gate River Run, you might have to park a half a mile away. There are just so many people moving around, it’s just hard to get where you need to be,” said Alred.
Race instructions runners will receive by email will have complete details and support staff will be in place to help runners get to where they need to be.
Alred said while there is adequate parking, if you have never run the Gate before, be prepared for the size of the crowd.
“I tell people, ‘If you run races during the year, don’t come to the race thinking it is like one of those other races,’ because when you come to Gate River Run, you might have to park a half a mile away," Alred said. "There are just so many people moving around, it’s just hard to get where you need to be.”