What’s a Jacksonville event that includes EverBank Field, the Main Street Bridge, San Marco, St. Nicholas, and a brutal, grueling climb up the Hart Bridge? Answer: It’s the Gate River Run. The race, in its 37th year, isn’t just a red-letter event on Jacksonville’s activities calendar. It’s also the national 15-kilometer road championship for USA Track and Field, so it attracts elite runners from all across the nation. Among those elite runners were Ben True and Shalane Flanagan, who won the men’s and women’s races respectively in a terrific morning of racing.
How terrific? Shalane Flanagan didn’t just set the course record – she broke the all-time 15-kilometer record for the fastest time by an American woman, which was set in 2003. And Ben True, the defending champion in the race, clinched another victory by running a final mile in less than four minutes to pull away after a seven-mile, one-on-one duel with first-time professional racer Chris Derrick of Oregon. Here’s my report for the Florida Times-Union (http://members.jacksonville.com/sports/local-sports/local-running/2014-03-15/story/shalane-flanagan-sets-gate-river-run-record).
Converged communicators who are uncomfortable riding in the back of a wide-open industrial vehicle without safety belts and traveling at moderate to high speed might think twice before covering the Gate River Run. The media truck is no luxury limousine, and the reporters on board are sitting (or holding on by way of wobbly railings) in very close quarters. But if you don’t mind the breeze and an occasional jolt when the vehicle bounces over lumpy roadways, there’s no better vantage point for watching a run from start to finish. Check out a few pictures that I snapped as this unconventional mode of transportation whizzed around the heart of Jacksonville, from Bay Street to San Marco and beyond.