Changes coming to Gate River Run in 2021 amid continuing pandemic

Crown battles Green Monster (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – WJXT will, once again, broadcast the Gate River Run in 2021 on Saturday, March 20. The 15K national championship is also the biggest race in the area for local runners. Because of the limited number of top-flight races in the country, the elite field is expected to be one of the best in recent history. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing a number of changes to the race day activities.

As previously announced, the field was limited to 8,000 runners for the 15K. The field sold out more than two months before the race. As of Jan. 21, there were still spots available for the 5K and the virtual 5K. Runners can sign up at

In a typical year, the race would be followed by a festival in the Jacksonville Fairgrounds where thousands of runners and their family and friends wind down from the race and socialize. This year, there will be no post-race festival.

Packet pickup for runners to get their race numbers will be more limited than in the past. Runners will be assigned a specific window of time to pick up at the expo. The expo will also be scaled down this year.

All runners must wear masks at the start and finish line. During the race, masks are not required.

And perhaps the most dramatic changes will be the use of two different starting lines.

2021 Gate River Run starting course (1st place sports)

One starting line will be at the corner of Duval Street and A. Phillip Randolph street as it was last year. The other will be at the corner of Adams Street and A. Phillip Randolph. Groups will go off of each starting line at the same time and the first stretch of the race, approximately a mile, will be separate before both groups of runners will merge just before the Main Street Bridge. From there, the runners will run the same course the rest of the way.

As in previous years, different color-coded waves will be separated by seeded times.

Some other notes about this year’s race:

  • All runners and walkers should be in position by 7:30 a.m.
  • Elite women will start at 7:54 from the Duval Street starting line.
  • All 15K participants need to be to the Hart Bridge, which is at mile 7.5, by 10:30 AM. This is a 20 minute/mile pace.

Here’s a look at where the starting waves will line up:

The starting waves for the 2021 Gate River Run. (20211st Place Sports)

About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.