JACKSONVILLE - Of the 15,000-plus runners at the 40th annual Gate River Run 15K road race held Saturday in Jacksonville, two area runners got within seconds of age group titles as one of the fastest …
JACKSONVILLE - Of the 15,000-plus runners at the 40th annual Gate River Run 15K road race held Saturday in Jacksonville, two area runners got within seconds of age group titles as one of the fastest races in recent history unfolded in front with Olympian Leonard Korir outleaning Shadrack Kipchirchir, also an Olympian, by just one second in 43 minutes, 22 seconds to take the 2017 title.
In the women’s overall race, Jordan Hasay, 25, of Beaverton, OR, won by just 14 seconds with her 49:28 time.
On a day cooled and slightly windy, three Kenyan runners hailing from
Colorado Springs; Korir, Kipchirchir and Sam Chelanga all ran shoulder to shoulder for the first 8.7 miles of the 9.3 mile course before Korir and Kipchirchir split away to chase Hasay and the $5,000 Equalizer Bonus. The Bonus started with a six minute head start by the entire elite women’s field in front of the men with the first runner; male or female, across the line earning the cash prize on top of the winner’s awards of $12,000 for first, $5,000 for second and $3,000 for third plus money to 10th place.
Hasay, a University of Oregon graduate and recent American record setter for the half marathon distance (13.1 miles), held off the three Kenyas until the final half mile off the Hart Bridge on-ramp where Korir surged and won and Kipchirchir outleaned Hasay for second overall. Korir and Kipchirchir both ran 4:08 final miles while averaging 4:39 for the 9.3 mile distance. Hasay ran a 4:52 final mile while averaging 5:18.
In the age group battles that ensued, two young area runners; Grace Adams, 12, of Fleming Island, and Matthew Stratton, 12, of Orange Park, battled to second place finishes within seconds of winning. Adams, who ran a 7:39 per mile pace, chased down Alexandra Trigg, 11, of Hernando, MS, to the finish, but fell short by 10 seconds with her 1:11:22 finishing time.
In the female 14-19s, St. Johns Country Day School cross country and track ace Helena Kummings, 15, took third in 1:08:39.
Stratton, a seventh grade runner for the state meet cross country team at St. Johns Country Day School, lost his defending champion title with a one second off finish in 58:07 to Jesse Benavides, 13, of St. Johns, in the male 11-13 division.
Also for the males, Fleming Island master’s stalwart John Metzgar, 54, a numerous times age group champion in Jacksonville, placed second in the male 50-54 division with a 58:19 split to the 52:51 winning time set by Tim Meigs, 50, of Raleigh, NC.
Orange Park super grandmaster George White, 70, placed third in the 70-74 division with a 1:17:57 split.
Finishing top 10 in age groups were Libby Coen, 18, of Fleming Island, 10th in 14-19 in 1:12:25; M?iddleburg runner Elena Davis, 46, 10th in 45-49 in 1:12:12; Orange Park runner Denise Dailey, 59, fifth in 55-59 in 1:15:45; Fleming Island’s Judy Lind, 72, fourth in 1:41:56; Winney Yaun, 70, of Green Cove Springs, eighth in 1:54:20 and Laura Ritter, 76, of Orange Park, sixth in 75-79 in 2:43:06.
For males, finishing in top 10 in age groups were Kyle Shannon, 13, of Fleming Island, eighth in 11-13 in 1:15:00; Ben Hathaway, 18, a Clay High senior, seventh in 14-19 in 56:47 and Benjamin Kailes, 15, of Orange Park, eighth in 14-19 in 58:03; Justin Jacobs, 34, an Orange Park High graduate now in Jacksonville, 10th in 30-34 in 50:09; Walter Key, 35, of Orange Park, sixth in 35-39 in 57:28; in 40-44, Jason Arnold, 42, of Green Cove Springs, finished sixth in 58:42 with Dr.Gary Myers, 44, of Orange Park, eighth in 59:42; Scott Tremaine, 47, of Fleming Island, finished 11th in 45-49 by just two seconds in 1:00:44 and, in 50-54, Orange Park’s Joe Rivera, 50, finished seventh in 1:02:22;