Thousands of runners give back to Jacksonville students at 46th Annual Ortega River Run

Saturday morning, over 1,600 runners laced up their sneakers and headed out to the Ortega neighborhood for the 46th annual Ortega River Run.

The event took place at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville’s Saint Marks campus on Oxford Avenue. The money raised by the event supports the school’s financial aid budget, allowing for more students to attend.

News4JAX spoke with Episcopal’s head of school, Reverend Adam Greene, as the run got underway.

“The community support has been unbelievable,” Greene said. “It provides wonderful support for the school and all in its mission.”

News4JAX spoke to many runners who said it’s a great cause, and it also gives them a chance to do what they love.

“That was a lot of fun, but that was difficult. It was good,” first-time runner Connor Salt said.

The event’s primary sponsor is W.W. Gay, but includes others like WJXT News4JAX, Beaver Chevrolet, Duval Motor Company, etc. The run consisted of a 1-mile fun run and 5-mile run/walk. By supporting the school’s financial aid budget, Greene said students from all socioeconomic backgrounds will have a chance to become part of the school community. Greene said while there was not a dollar figure goal this year, the hope is to always expand year to year.

“Given that we have 1,600 runners, W.W. Gay is the lead sponsor and all the other sponsors on the signage and all the people involved, we’re really optimistic about meeting our goal this year,” Rev. Greene said.

Morning Show News Anchors Melanie Lawson and Bruce Hamilton were among the thousands of runners who completed the race.

“The weather was perfect. It was the perfect run, and I ran the whole thing,” Lawson said.

Greene said for him, one of the greatest joys is seeing the returning runners, especially if they’re wearing t-shirts from previous years.

“There are so many people that come back year after year, whether they’re running or not,” Rev. Greene said. “It’s a great tribute to what our organizers do every year.”

The Ortega River Run serves as a precursor to the iconic Gate River Run, which is happening March 2.

The Runner’s Expo starts on Feb. 29. You can register for the Gate River Run here.

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