After my sister-n-law Brooke and I ran in the Color me Rad 5K in Jacksonville back in September, we had our eye on the next biggest race weekend in Jacksonville history - the Gate River Run 15K. The Gate River Run is the largest 15K in the United States with 20,000+ runners! Brooke and I have been training for months (me for my half marathon, and her for this 15K) and the weekend was finally here! I was super stoked to get to spend a full 24 hours with Jacob and Brooke! Their new house is coming along beautifully. Their newest addition, a back patio!
Once I arrived in Jacksonville the night before the race, it was time to carb up! They took me to their favorite pizza place, Al's Pizza, and it was delicious! It was great catching up while we ate our carbs! :)
Race morning was a little chaotic! Brooke and I woke up on time and were ready to go by 6:45am (our wave start time was 8:35am) but traffic downtown definitely slowed us down! We finally found a parking garage, and asked the police officer waving everyone in if it was full, her response was that the top lot was not full and to continue on. Once we hit level 3, we realized cars were driving back down and the garage had filled up.We had 15 minutes until our race start time, so we took a chance and found an illegal spot in the parking garage to park in and hoped for the best (we had a race to run!!)
Thankfully we found the start line, guzzled our energy gels and water, hit the bathrooms, and stretched for a few minutes before it was time to start running! Brooke, unfortunately, has been battling a leg injury the past month and wasn't sure she'd even be able to do this race. I was so proud of her for even wanting to give it a chance after a few weeks of physical therapy. She is a trooper!
Ready for our 15K to begin!
The first mile or two was through downtown Jacksonville, then we got to our first bridge, the one I was most excited about running across, and it was beautiful! It was so cool to see the thousands of people in front of you running up the ramp and over the bridge.
Firefighters (one in full uniform) running the race too and crossing the bridge with us...
Our views while running...
Then we got into the neighborhoods of downtown Jacksonville. I was shocked at how many people were out in their front yards, cheering everyone on as they ran by! They were handing out all kinds of things. Strawberries, oranges, popsicles, gummy bears, and so much more! There were little kids with pom-poms, signs being held up, music blaring, it was so neat to see how involved the community was in this race!
At mile 8 you start heading up the Hart Bridge, another beautiful bridge, but a steep one!
Getting towards the top, hooray!
When you looked out across the river, you could see the very first bridge we ran across and it really made us realize just how far we had come! I couldn't get over how beautiful the views were from the tops of the bridges! Once we hit the top, we had just a mile to go and it was all down the bridge to the finish line in front of the stadium!
I was SO proud of Brooke for pushing through her injury and never giving up! We ran the entire 15K (with the exception of fast walking up the massive bridge!!) and she did amazing! I was so thrilled to be able to run in such an awesome race with my sister-n-law!
Another medal to add to my collection! Which race will be next?! I give the Gate River Run 15K 2 thumbs up for sure. It was one of my top favorites for the beautiful views and the fun community of people surrounding you!