Richard Clark Fannin, Sisterhood and the Magic in Jacksonville

Richard Clark Fannin, one of the biggest advocates of the sport of running there is!
Richard Clark Fannin, one of the biggest advocates of the sport of running there is!

Think elite athletes are cut-throat win-at-all costs competitors? Think again! There’s no better example of how amazing runners of all speeds are than what’s going down right now in Jacksonville.

In elite and subelite circles, everyone knows Richard Clark Fannin, the elite coordinator for the Gate River Run 15K race held every March in Jacksonville, Florida. With Richard’s outreach, the Gate River Run is one of the most competitive races in the country! Richard, always thinking about how to advance the sport, realized that his hometown marathon, the Jacksonville Bank Marathon and Half on January 3, 2016 was six weeks out from the Olympic marathon trials. Better yet, it’s a flat, fast course! He put the bug in a few ears and something amazing is happening!

First a quick refresher. To qualify for the 2016 US Women’s Marathon Olympic Trials, a woman needs to run at least a B standard time, a 2:43:00 full marathon or a 1:15:00 half marathon. If she manages to run a 2:37:00 or better, she gets an A standard and USATF will pay her expenses to travel to run in the trials. The Olympic Trials Marathon will be held in L.A. on February 13, 2016. The qualifying window closes on January 17, 2016.

Richard realized that the Jax Half, at six weeks before the trials and a fast course, is the perfect race for marathoners to do a hard half-marathon effort and it’s also a great time for athletes yet to qualify to give it one last shot. Richard first talked to a couple of A standard qualifiers, Brianne Nelson and Esther (Erb) Atkins about his idea and not only did those super fast ladies agree to come to Jacksonville to do their last hard effort before the Trials, Brianne and Esther suggested they lead a 1:15:00 pace group to help their as-yet-unqualified running sisters get the B standard!

Esther Atkins will be just one of the leaders of the 1:15:00 pace group at the JAX Half!
Esther Atkins will be just one of the leaders of the 1:15:00 pace group at the JAX Half!

But that’s not all. Qualifiers are signing up in droves to help in the effort to get more women qualified! Check out this line up! , Kaitlin Gregg, Tera Moody, Kelly Brinkman, Marci Gage, Kara Lubieniecki, Sarah Crouch and Laura Thweatt. That’s not even an exhaustive list. Every hour Richard is announcing a new qualifier signing up. Awesome!

If you or someone you know is looking for a last-chance qualifier, send Richard Clark Fannin a Facebook message (click his name to go to his Facebook page). If you have run a 1:17 half or a 2:45 full, you may qualify for complimentary entry, 2 night hotel, a ton of support and as stress-free a race experience as you can ask for! Spots for this offer are limited, so contact him ASAP if interested!!!!

While most of us can only dream of running fast enough to take advantage of the incredible pace group Richard’s lined up for the JAX Half, we can all appreciate how special this race is going to be with so many amazing athletes working together to raise each other and the sport up, thanks to Richard Clark Fannin’s big idea.

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Stuff like this makes me wish I was a running groupie. Even the very top of the sport believes that we all have to get faster and advance the sport together.

  2. I love that you showcased this! I am really excited for these athletes. Richard is awesome.

    Just a quick note– USATF does NOT pay for the athletes. LA Marathon funds the entire shebang including travel expenses for A standard qualifiers and prize money. I believe they even have to cover the cost of anti doping.