JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Emily Sisson claimed her third straight women’s title in Saturday’s Gate River Run, but this year’s $5,000 equalizer bonus went to the man who caught her on the Hart Bridge off-ramp: Olympic steeplechaser Hillary Bor.
“I thought I was not gonna catch Emily,” Bor said. “I think she slowed down today because she normally runs 47. To catch that you need to run an American record.”
RACE RESULTS: How did you do in this year’s Gate River Run?
But Bor, 33, said when he checked his 10K split and saw he was at 28:35, he changed his mind.
“Maybe I could catch her,” he said. “That’s when I started pushing.”
The gamble proved worth it when he spotted Sisson on “The Green Monster” and then ran by her on the off-ramp.
He was right, the weather had affected Sisson, 31, and her winning time of 48:26 was the slowest of her three women’s championship times.
“I’ve been training in Flagstaff, Arizona, where we just got another 2 feet of snow a couple days ago so I’m not used to this heat, but I grew up in humidity so I just remind myself that anytime I race within it that I’m familiar enough with it, but it was hard today,” Sisson said. “It was a grind.”
Sisson is just the second woman in the 46-year history of the race to win three in a row. Deena (Drossin) Kastor won four in a row from 2000-2003.
Sisson, an Olympian, is the current North American record holder in the marathon, and the American record holder in the half marathon.
Her time in Saturday’s River Run was the eighth fastest time in race history for the women.
This year, the top 25 elite women had a 5-minute head start, instead of the 6 minutes they had the last two years when Sisson blew the field away. The start of the race was delayed 10 minutes because of traffic issues Saturday morning.
Bor took advantage of the shift in the equalizer time, chasing down Sisson -- despite running with a stitch for the last few miles. He finished in 43:11 for his first River Run title -- which came with a $17,000 payday, thanks to the equalizer bonus.
“I’ve had an issue with a stitch for the last three weeks so I wanted to make sure the stitch goes away before I make a big push,” Bor said. “This is my fourth time (at the River Run). It never felt like this, but it shows that when you are fit, you can run in any weather.”
Bor’s time was the 12th best in race history for the men.
The elite men and women were competing for a combined $58,000 in prize money with $12,000 each going to the top man and top woman.
There were also cash prizes for anyone who set a world, American or course record, but the weather kept that from being a factor.
Temperatures in the mid-70s might not sound like serious heat for Florida but that was enough to set a record for the hottest River Run start time ever, according to News4JAX meteorologist John Gaughan.
The 15K run began at 8 a.m. and it was very breezy with south to southwest winds blowing around 15 mph putting some headwinds into the first leg into San Marco, according to The Weather Authority meteorologist Mark Collins.
Jonathan Hulzebos won the Men’s First Coast Cup with a time of 49:03, and Laura Campbell won the Women’s First Coast Cup in 58:21.
“I hadn’t done Gate in two years so it was nice to come back and this is the fastest I’ve run in a decade so I’m proud of that,” Campbell said. “Heat was definitely a factor today. I didn’t run as fast as I hoped, but I did PR.”
One of the big goals for many runners is to finish in time to get a hat -- which means finishing in the top 10%. The men’s hats lasted 3 minutes longer Saturday than last year, while the women’s hats lasted 5 minutes longer.
“This was the hottest River Run that I have ever run,” said commentator Julie Stackhouse, who finished in 1:03:28. “It was a slugfest out there.”