Women still outdistance men in ‘Gate,’ but number of younger women slips

56% of runners signed up for the 15K are female

Why younger women are not running in the same numbers the did years ago.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The ladies have dominated the men in Gate River Run participation for the past several years.

We’re not talking about those elite women who finish the 15K in under an hour. Despite the $5,000 “equalizer bonus,” men have crossed the finish line first in all but three years since the race began in 1978.

We’re just saying that women tackling the course and the Green Monster (the runners’ nickname for the Hart Bridge) have outnumbered men for the past eight years.

Race Director Doug Alred said about 56% of those signed up to run in recent years are women.

“We used to track it and say, ‘Oh, the females are catching the guys,’ because it was always the men who were the biggest,” Alred said.

From 2005 to 2012 there was a boom in female runners ages 25 to 29. However, that age group has dwindled -- down to 1,361 in 2012 to 879 last year -- even though women still outnumber men overall.

“We’re not exactly sure why that’s happening. We know there are other things that people can get attracted to besides running,” Alred said. “It’s just a fact that we’ve lost a lot of females in that age group.”

Hannah King, who falls into that category, is still running. This year will be her third Gate River Run. She has a few ideas about why young women aren’t running as much as they were a decade ago.

“Group fitness classes like yoga, Orange Theory, Pure Barre have really taken a big priority in a lot of folks’ lives," King said. “The other thing is running as a female, it’s a little scary if you were doing it alone. I can think of a number of incidents that I have had as well as many of other of my female friends, so I think that can keep people off the streets, too.”

King said running groups really helped motivate her and thinks, for people her age, it is a lot more fun than running solo.

Men vs. women finishers in first 41 years of Gate River Run

* Race delayed one day by ‘Storm of the Century’

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.