JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 13,000 runners will participate this year in the Gate River Run, which is the largest 15K in the country and serves as the USA 15K championship.
With so many people hitting the pavement Saturday, there are a few things you need to know now if you’re going to be in the downtown area.
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The main start for the race is at 8 a.m. but road closures began Friday with Gator Bowl Boulevard shutting down at noon between Georgia and Duval streets. It will remain closed through 1 p.m. Saturday.
Also starting Friday, there will be a bypass around the starting area through parking Lot J for inbound traffic and Lot K for traffic coming from town.
The Gate River Expo at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds was packed Thursday as thousands of Gate River Run participants made final preps ahead of the big race.
Why they run
Gidget Bennett said this is her 10th time running, and her reason for lacing up Saturday is quite interesting.
“I have friends that asked if I would train with them and help them do their first race and those friends aren’t doing it -- so, now I’m doing it by myself,” Bennett said.
Speaking of having a support system, Carolyn McClanahan said that goes way back for her -- 26 years, to be exact.
READ: Gate River Run official virtual program | 2023 River Run schedule
“The first time I ever ran, my boss talked me into running it like three days before. I wasn’t a runner, but I became so addicted, and running has changed my life,” McClanahan said.
As for Sandy Wong, she’s not in it to win it. This is about having a good time.
“The only medal I ever kept was from a marathon years ago,” Wong said. “I don’t care about the medals. I just do it because I like to do it.”
Runner Lucy Croft said running sets her mind free.
“That’s when I’m probably the happiest, is when I’m running and enjoying the crowds and being in the moment,” Croft said. “And so, that’s probably why I love running the most, because it allows me to be free.”
For the first time in a few years, runners won’t have to adapt to a new course.
Here’s a look at the route the tens of thousands of runners will take Saturday through the heart of Jacksonville and over the Main Street and Hart bridges.
To accommodate the race, the following roads will be closed during these times:
- Duval Street (TIAA Bank Field to Main Street Bridge): 7:15 a.m.- 8:45 a.m.
- Main Street Bridge: 7:45 a.m.- 9 a.m.
- Riverplace Blvd - Prudential Drive: 8 a.m.- 9:15 a.m.
- San Marco Blvd (Prudential to Laverne): 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
- River Road and River Oaks Road: 8:15 a.m.- 9:45 a.m.
- Hendricks Ave (River Oaks to Alexandria): 8:20 a.m.- 10 a.m.
- Alexandria and Belote: 8:20 a.m.- 10:15 a.m.
- Atlantic Blvd. West Bound (Belote to Holmesdale): 8:20 a.m.- 10:30 a.m.
- Holmesdale, Nicholson, Olive and Gay: 8:20 a.m.- 10:45 a.m.
- Atlantic Blvd. West Bound (Gay to Hart Bridge): 8:20 a.m.- 11 a.m.
- Hart Bridge Southeast Bound (Atlantic Blvd to Duval Street: 7:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
- Duval and Gator Bowl Blvd: 8:15 a.m.- 12 p.m.
So needless to say, if you don’t need to head downtown near the race on Saturday, it’s probably best not to.
You can watch all the action on Channel 4 and News4JAX+ as we cover the race on The Morning Show, starting at 7:30 a.m.
And this year is a big one!
The Synovus 5K and Brooks Challenge Mile have sold out. Final numbers of participants, according to River Run officials:
- 15K -- 13,500
- 5K -- capped at 1,600
- Challenge mile -- 756
- Junior River Run -- 800
If you need to catch a ride Saturday, the River Taxi is a good option.
It will start operating at 7 a.m. to transport people to and from downtown hotels to the Gate River Run.
A hop-on-hop-off, all-day wristband round-trip is $15.
The first boat departure will be from the Doubletree Dock.
The boat will next go to the Southbank Hotel Dock then to the Stadium/Metro Park Dock.
The boat loops every 20-25 minutes. There’s still time to buy tickets, but you’ll need to do it on their website: Jaxrivertaxi.com.
Runners are warned to arrive in time to park by 7 a.m. -- that’s 1 hour before the start of the race.
Parking is free but you might have to park as far as 1/2 mile from the starting line.
Runners are instructed to park in the lots around the stadium, NOT in the streets, as the streets are used for the race.