River Run 2004 – Jacksonville, FL
By Lisa Unger
On the morning of March 13, 2004, over 7600 runners lined up on Duval Street in Jacksonville, FL, anticipating the start of the 27th Gate River Run. There was a new five minute “headstart” for the elite women and the race course followed a new route to the Main Street Bridge this year, but the tradition of running excellence remained constant. Meb Keflezighi won the race for the 4th consecutive year in a time of 43:10. Colleen De Reuck was the winning woman in a time of 49:02. In the first 5k of the race, runners crested hill after rolling hill and traversed the Main Street Bridge with its open grate middle section that is very tough on runners’ feet. The second 5k wandered through pretty neighborhoods before turning onto the highway that leads to the Hart Bridge, otherwise known as “The Green Monster”. Fortunately, all that goes up also comes down, as does the Hart Bridge, making the last mile of the River Run a screamer for most, despite tired legs. As runners crossed the finish line they received finisher medals that will forever memorialize their 9.3 mile trek through Jacksonville.
There was a post race gathering at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, where GWTC Team Racing coordinator Tim Unger organized a very professional looking meeting place. Tim had a shade canopy with a GWTC banner and one of his now famous “GWTC Feather Flags” that were visible from almost every part of the Fairgrounds. Several people stopped by when they saw the GWTC designations. We were very proud to have FSU’s Joep Tigchelaar in our camp both before and after the race. Joep ran an incredible 15k in 46:00 (chip time) and was 10th overall. The GWTC camp was also graced with the presence of the Hanson Brothers. Yes, that’s right, Keith and Kevin, along with 2 of their women runners, stopped by to check out one of the most organized clubs at the event. To make sure that there was proof of their visit, I played the “running groupie” and got all of their autographs, including Joep’s.
GWTC entered 5 teams in the Gate River Run this year with the Open Men (2nd), Masters Men (1st) and Masters Females (2nd) teams all capturing team awards. Scoring on the Open Men team were Mike Lilly (52:18), Paul Ahnberg (1:03:42) and John Huffman (1:05:42). The scoring runners on the Masters Men’s team were Tim Unger (53:06), Bill McCord (56:36) and Jay Silvanima (1:00:29). The GWTC Masters Female team scoring members were Judy Alexander (1:14:01), Pam Breza (1:18:19) and Linda Ongley (1:33:26). Tallahassee and the surrounding area were very well represented by more than 70 runners. Some familiar faces seen in the crowd were: Brian Corbin, Terry Presnell, Hobson and Jan Fulmer (a special thanks goes to Jan for her very important role in maintaining the GWTC tent and watching Lilly Unger while the gang ran the race), Aaron and Keith Powell, Lisa Whitworth, Tatsuko Lilly, Geoff and Kim Likens, Lisa Echeverri, Carlos and Melissa Zapata, Nick and Barbara Yonclas, Chuck Davis and Mike Sims. Registered, but not seen were Dena Coukoulis, Mary Huckabee, Pheona Kaiser, Michelle Ledbetter, George Palmer and Betsy Thorpe. Whitney Alexander and Lezlie Gardner enjoyed running the Charity 5k.
Perfect weather, interesting scenery, good friends and a well organized post race gathering all combined to make the 2004 Gate River Run an event to remember. 2005 will offer another chance for runners to challenge themselves and enjoy a Rave Run in Jacksonville, FL.