The 2011 Gate River Run took place on Saturday, March 12th in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is my hometown and the River Run is a great opportunity to go home and spend some time with the family. This was the second year in a row that my family has run the race. Last year my wife Susan, brother Keith, sister-in-law Diane, and niece Kristen ran the race. We all did it again this year and added two more. My twin brother Glenn and his wife Marcia joined us. This was their first race, so they ran the 5K. Susan wasn't feeling well so she decided to run the 5K as well.
In keeping with this year's more environmentally friendly theme, several days before the race the directors e-mailed participants a "virtual race bag". It included links to coupons, sponsor websites, and maps of the pre-race expo, race start and finish, 5K and 15K courses, and post-race festivities, all in pdf format.
I woke up on Friday morning at 3AM feeling pretty bad. I'd spent the night nursing a sore throat, headache and fever. It's not easy trying to sleep with a throat lozenge affixed to the roof of one's mouth. At around 8AM I called my brothers and told them I was sick and we wouldn't be coming to Jax. Susan and I had intended to leave the house at 9AM. Susan made me some breakfast and coffee and at around 10:30AM I took a shower and felt much better. So, at 11:30AM we decided to go after all. I took our dog Max to Puppy Tubs in Peachtree City while Susan got ready and did some final packing. I returned home, we loaded up the car and we headed for Jax at 12:30PM. This was much later than we had planned to leave but, what the hey...
An assortment of medication would help me make it through the weekend and the race, along with an endless supply of Kleenex and paper towels. I found that using even two Kleenex's to absorb the contents of a nose in full flow was totally inadaquate and resorted to the less soft but more absorbent paper towels. The Chamois Butt'r and the Body Glide were for my feet.
While we were driving down from Atlanta my niece was collecting our race bibs, shirts and schwag. The 15K'ers received an Adidas technical shirt and 5K'ers got a cotton shirt.
|2011 Gate River Run 15K Adidas tech shirt|
|2011 Gate River Run 5K Charity Run cotton shirt|
|2011 Gate River Run 15K bib|
We left the house on race morning at 6:15AM, picked up my niece and got to the Jaguar's stadium at 7AM. We found free parking at the Sun's stadium.
The 5K charity run was not timed however, the 15K race was timed via MYLAPS bib attached RFID chips. The bibs had each runner's first name imprinted in large type. I heard my name called out several times. That was cool! Timing mats were located at the start, 5K and 10K points, and finish line. Water stations with water and Gatorade were located all along the 15K course. Many of the water stations were manned by residents and volunteers supporting the countless politicians running for local office. There were also several live bands performing on the course and spectators with music and noise makers of their own. The course had smooth and flat pavement except for the few minor rises in elevation, and the Main Street Bridge and Hart Bridge, of course. The bridges are also where runners would find grates on the roadway. The long downhill run from the top of the Hart Bridge to the finish line is a welcome sight although the last 200 yards to the finish line were slightly uphill.
Before the race started the announcer asked the runners to observe 15-seconds of silence in memory of Sally Meyerhoff. Ms. Meyerhoff was an elite female athlete that was hit and killed by a car while cycling only a few days before the race. She had placed 9th amongst the female runners in the 2009 race.
The weather at the start was clear blue skies with cool temperatures in the low 40's. We stayed bundled up and out of the shade. Before the race I wore a fashionable ankle length trash bag to keep warm. I think I looked a bit like Steve Carell in Evan Almighty.
After the race the temperature rose to the mid-60's. We took a quick tour of the post-race festivities. I entered a raffle at the Geico tent and got a free hat and key ring. There was also a beer truck dispensing free beer. The beer line grew fast.
|Susan and I at the Jaguar, with beer|
|Race results in the Florida Times-Union newspaper (check # 508)|
|2011 Gate River Run finishers' medal|
|2011 Gate River Run Top 10% Finisher hat|
|The "Don't be a pig" note|
|Expo and race day schwag|
|The free pizza cutter I didn't get|
|The family at the table on the right|
|Pulled pork, coleslaw, and toasted bread|
|Carolina pork, fries, and toasted bread|
|Diane with her beef brisket sandwich and baked beans|
|Susan waiting for her shrimp|
|Beach rules sign|
|Whale sightings sign|
|Boardwalk through the dunes to the beach|
|Beach warning flags sign|
|The view north at Mickler's Landing|
|The view south at Mickler's Landing|
|The brothers Farmer|
|Hey, who are you?|
|Do you want to play with me?|
|Do you have something for me to eat?|
|When otters attack!|
|I'm glad I saw that sign, I almost missed my exit!|
|A line of a dozen or so billboards|
|Billboards on both sides of the highway|
What a weekend, drive 700 miles, run 9.3 miles, drink beer, eat BBQ, nurse a cold and a bloody finger. It's good to be home.