Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Gentle Time Limit for River Run 'Streakers'; by Clayton Freeman

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Gentle Time Limit for River Run 'Streakers'; by Clayton Freeman

Article excerpt

Byline: clayton.freeman@jacksonville.com

For 40 years, Northeast Florida's hardiest runners have marked their calendars and hit the road for the Gate River Run, time after time.

In year 41, they'll have to make sure they don't drop too far off the pace.

That's because there's a new time limit in effect for this year's 41st edition of the Gate River Run, which begins at 8 a.m. Saturday.

For the first time, the "streakers" - the runners who have completed every edition of the race since its inception in 1978 - will have three hours and 30 minutes to complete the 15-kilometer loop through downtown Jacksonville, San Marco and St. Nicholas.

The streakers number 38 for now. But as more streakers climb into their 70s and 80s, race director Doug Alred acknowledges that some are struggling to keep up.

"I started seeing a trend that too many of them were moving toward the back of the pack, and I didn't want them to be toward the back of the pack," Alred said.

Enter the Streaker Rules.

First, the streak only counts for runners that enter the full 15K race, so entering the weekend's 5K run doesn't count.

Second, streakers must be timed at both the start and finish as well as two of the intermediate course splits, designed to prevent anyone from bypassing part of the course to extend the streak.

Third is the time restriction.

Although runners who haven't crossed the line by the designated time (roughly 11:30 a.m., allowing a few minutes for the difference between gun time and chip time) won't have to clear the road, their efforts won't count toward extending their race streak.

The time limit's introduction hasn't come without debate. In the January/February edition of The Starting Line, the newsletter of JTC Running, Alred said that while a time limit was "possible," he was not planning to introduce the measure this year.

He said that he changed that stance after conversations with several runners, including streakers, and decided the limit was "probably not a bad idea."

Count Bob Fernee among the streakers who says he's not losing any sleep by the rule, which he considers "quite lenient. …

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