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Thousands lace up for another year of the annual Gate River Run in Downtown Jacksonville

Jacksonville, Fla. — Downtown Jacksonville was bustling Saturday morning.

Thousands of professional and recreational runners laced up their shoes for the annual Gate River Run.

They came from all over the country.

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“I came all the way from Rock Hill, South Carolina to come run it,” said Liv Paxton. “I’ve heard great things. My dad ran it 45 years ago, I think so I’m excited to come back and run it today.”

The Gate River Run is the country’s largest 15k road race - with a total prize purse of more than $60,000.

This year’s men’s champion Teshome Asfaha and women’s champion Rachel Smith both crossed the finish line in just over 45 minutes.

Smith said, “Honestly, I was just, just get to the finish line, because I was exhausted. I don’t know how much I enjoyed that last, um, coming down the hill is so steep and I was like oh man, I hope like my legs don’t give out.”

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The race was founded in 1975 by the Jacksonville Track Club, taking runners through Downtown, San Marco and St. Nicholas, with the Hart Bridge looming at the 7-mile mark.

The bridge has been nicknamed the “Green Monster” because of its steep incline.

Smith said it took a lot of training to get to the finish line.

“A lot of a lot of slow and steady work to get back to here. So shout out to all the competitors today. They were amazing. They’ve definitely brought up the best in me and it feels really good to get to win,” she said.

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