JACKSONVILLE - The Gate River Run 15K American championship road race, one of the last major sporting events that survived the United States COVID Pandemic shutdown in 2020, is less than one month …
JACKSONVILLE - The Gate River Run 15K American championship road race, one of the last major sporting events that survived the United States COVID Pandemic shutdown in 2020, is less than one month away and is shaping up with one of the best elite fields in the history of the race, according to Race Director Doug Alred, of 1st Place Sports in Jacksonville.
“We have been working hard to implement protocols to have a safe race,” said Alred. “We are limiting the race to 8,000 runners with two starting lines to separate runners a little bit more. But, despite all that, we are ready to roll.”
The Gate River Run 15K 2020 went off without a hitch, but soon after the United States business world and mass gatherings were curtailed due to the COVID pandemic.
“A week after that race, the country shut down,” said Alred. “We have had races recently with staggered starts, limited gatherings for awards and use of masks. Runners want to run, but safety is important.”
The 15K and 5K races are scheduled for Mar. 20. The 15K is sold out with limited entries and the 5K for Charity is still open with limited entries. The Gate River Run is the largest 15K in the nation.
“While we were in a pandemic and COVID, all races had been canceled or postponed until just about four, five months ago,” Alred said. “With the approval of City and local health officials, we are currently moving forward with plans for the USATF 15K National Championship, however we are implementing safety protocols to make the event as safe as possible.”
Alred noted the elite field is still subject to change, however some of the following athletes have committed to run.
“For the females, Jordan Hasay and Molly Seidel are top names committed to running while Ben True returns as a past winner,” said Alred. “We have one more big name thinking of coming for the men, U.S. Olympian Galen Rupp, has shown interest.”
Alred noted that Gate River Run’s stature as the 15K national Championship annually attracts a top field of world-class American runners competing for more than $54,000 in prize money, including the $5,000 Equalizer Bonus for the first male or female to cross the finish line.
The following social distancing guidelines will be in place:
A. Socially distanced wave starts from two separate starting lines.
B. Masks required at all times except while running and walking during race.
C. Race will not have an awards ceremony or post-race celebration.
D. Volunteers distributing race medals and water will wear masks and gloves.
E. No race day registration.
F. Expanding expo to three days to reduce the number of visitors per day.
G. Limit of 1,000 visitors to the expo in each two-hour session.
H. Masks and temperature checks prior to entering expo.
I. Participants are required to select a packet pickup session when registering.
J. A virtual option is also available.
Alred noted the status of the event could change and if the live event is cancelled, it will be moved to a virtual event.
The race has been hosted by the non-profit Jacksonville Track Club Running since its inception in 1978 and, according to club President Larry Roberts, the race has donated over $50,000 annually to local charities, high school summer camp scholarships and various running trail projects like the Emerald Trail.
The schedule is as follows:
Runners’ Expo and packet pickup Wed. – Fri. 3/17 – 3/19 (Jacksonville Fairgrounds)
Gate River Run 15K Sat. 3/20 beginning at 8am.
Gate River Run 5K for Charity Sat. 3/20 10am.
There will not be a Junior River Run, Diaper Dash or Brooks Challenge Mile this year.
Additional information is available at www.gateriverrun15K.com or at 904.731.1900.