The Gate River Run (locally called “the Gate”) is a HUGE race for a 15K. There are over 20,000 runners and since it’s also the US Championships, it attracts lots of super fast pro runners. When we registered we thought we would still be recovering from NOLA, but given the change in plans at that race, I wasn’t sure what to expect for the race. After reviewing my schedule for that weekend (Eugene is quickly approaching), my plan was to run the Gate at marathon goal pace as part of my scheduled 20-miler. When I woke up Friday morning, the weather was perfect for running so I decided to change up my schedule on the fly and run 20-solo miles on Friday and then see what my legs could do on Saturday at the Gate.
We arrived in plenty of time to drop our stuff at the run club tent and head out on an easy 1 mile warm-up with the group. The weather was cool and crisp, but you could tell it was going to warm up quickly as the sun rose.
Because this race is so large, there are starting corrals and waves within the corrals. You can “apply” for a seeded spot when you register so it was cool to be seeded close to the front (and a bit strange).
When the gun went off I tried to just run comfortably and not get too caught up in the race atmosphere. I was also trying to not look at my watch too much. The first mile winds through downtown before crossing the St Johns River via the Main Street Bridge.
Jacksonville has a very large running community and the city as a whole really embraces the Gate. I was shocked by the number of people along the course the entire way. After crossing the Main, the course runs through several neighborhoods and people were literally tailgating to spectate. Great energy!! I felt pretty good- my legs were definitely tired but I felt like we were holding a decent pace (~7:40 at this point). I began to think if I could just hold close to HMP for the rest of the race, I’d be very happy. (insert omnious music)
I began to really slow down around mile 7.5 and told Batch to just go ahead. In hindsight I wish I had held it together and stayed with him, but at the time my body felt like toast. The course is infamous for crossing the Hart Bridge in mile 8- it felt like we climbed for the entire mile (dramatic much?). In a similar way to being warned about going up the Hart, I’d been warned not to burn it out too much on the down side since there was still a bit to go after you get off the bridge. Again in hindsight, I think I held back too much on the Hart, but I was able to kick at the end of a race for a change.
I crossed the finish line and headed straight for the hats—the Gate gives “Top 10% finisher” hats to the first 10% of males and females to cross the line. Unfortunately, if you’re close to the cut off, they don’t regulate the flow to the hat line- so if you don’t know about it, you might miss out to a finisher who crossed behind you (that’s what happened to Batch). Armed with my brag hat, I quickly found Batch and our friends Bubba and Matt then headed back to the club tent to hang out, drink, eat and geek out on running.
Official Results: 1:13:23/7:54 pace (7:44 Garmin)/44 in AG (they put pro runners who don’t place overall into AG for this race- Jen Rhines won my AG)
I loved this race and highly recommend it. Sign up early and get seeded or the course is very crowded. It’s a 15K and it’s on a Saturday so you still have the entire weekend free. The post race party is a blast, too. Anyone want to come run with us next year? Our club has an amazing post-race tent/celebration…
2 kegs and birthday cake. enough said.