The Jim Ryun Invitational has been synonymous with the start of the cross country season in the state of Florida.
The meet will celebrate it's 10th year in Lakeland and fourth consecutive at Holloway Park, one of the most beautiful courses in the area. Paul White, along with Ryun himself, started the meet after his daughter attended the running legends camps as a youngster.
"I also remember how impactful Jim's running career was on me as a young runner and I wanted to make that same influence available to the central Florida running community," White exclaimed. "This being the 10th anniversary is very special because we've seen it grow fivefold from our initial meet 10 years ago."
The 2018 edition will feature nearly 100 of the best boys and girls cross country programs in Florida including the Monteverde girls and Windermere boys.
Ryun, the first high school athlete to break the four minute barrier in the mile and 1968 silver medalist in the 1,500m is looking forward to the event that bears his namesake.
"When they built the Holloway course he had these runners in mind as well as the spectators who run from point to point to cheer the runners on, Ryun said. "Paul moved it to the end of August so that it would be a spectacular means to usher in the XC season. This move to the August date has in fact proven to be a great way to gather teams from all over the state."
As an added bonus, athletes, spectators, and fans will have a chance to meet former Oregon Duck and current Skechers professional runner Edward Cheserek, The meet's special guest, was a two-time Foot Locker National Champion in high school and won 17 NCAA titles during his time in Eugene.
"Bringing King Chez to meet the kids is just an added bonus to celebrate with the running community," noted White.
As a pro, he ran the 2nd fastest indoor mile in world history of 3:49.44 in 2018. Ryun, who knows a thing or two about success is equally as excited.
"Ed is the face of the newest generation of great middle distance runners," Ryun told us. "We could not be more grateful to Polar watches for sponsoring Ed's appearance. He will be a tremendous encouragement to all the young runners as he helps give them a vision for who they can be as runners."
Ryun added that the meaningful interaction his wife Anne and he have year after year with the runners, their parents, and coaches cannot be measured.
"It's analogous to a family reunion - getting to catch up and encourage one another," Ryun said. "Many attendees of the Jim Ryun Running Camps (www.ryunrunning.com) run in the event which makes it extra special for all of us. This year our daughter Catharine (who recently moved to Tampa as the vice president of Ironman Triathlons) will be joining us in greeting and cheering on the runners as well."