Now in it’s fifth year, the Mt. Acosta Classic might be the most unique and interesting running/cycling/endurance event in North Florida.
“To be able to have the bridge shut down and not have any vehicles on the road gives everybody an appreciation of how beautiful the city is,” said Marie McMaster the Race Director and an architect at the Haskell Company.
Well-known triathlete Jared Bynum was killed in Nocatee when he was run over by a car while on his bike training for his next race. Bynum was very involved in helping at-risk kids in North Florida graduate from high school and helping them continue their education. The Mt. Acosta Classic is held in his memory and through this year will have raised over $50,000 for the scholarship fund. Here’s how the organizers describe it:
“This scholarship fund was established to help students who complete the mentoring program at Julia Landon College Preparatory and Leadership School, go on to finish high school in four years and are accepted to college. It will help them go to college and achieve their dreams. Jared believed in being an encouraging and supporting role model for the young students that were a part of the school’s mentoring program. This scholarship focuses on those students who have overcome early childhood challenges and continued on through high school and to college. These students want to be something that they and their families can be proud of, something that brings joy to others.”
There are one loop (2.2 miles), one hour and three hour options, all starting at 4:30 PM for both cyclists and runners.
“As a participant in the run myself, the bridge is entirely different running on the road than running on the sidewalk,” McMaster explained. “The event is closed to traffic, every cyclist is aware of what to look for and we need the community to look after us as well.”
There is race day registration and the organizers say they’ll try to squeeze in everybody who shows up.
“One hundred percent of the money goes to the kids in this community, the future leaders of Jacksonville.”
And I can tell you from personal experience, this is a great event. Without any hills or mountains here in the Jacksonville area, there are cyclists and runners on the Acosta Bridge all the time. To get a chance to traverse the span, unencumbered by traffic, is something special.