Novice and experienced pole vaulters from throughout Florida competed in an open exhibition Saturday inside The Avenues shopping mall to hone their skills and promote their sport.

Curious shoppers lined the railing of the shopping mall’s second floor to watch as about 80 vaulters – ranging in age from 10 to 65 – sprinted full speed along a narrow, springy 140 foot long runway before planting their pole then launching themselves up and over, a crossbar set at varying heights up to about 17 feet or 17.6 feet.

“This is the only event in the United States like this,” said Coach Eli Sunquist, founder and director of the Jacksonville Athletic Club, which hosted the unique event.

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