It was Oct. 7 2000.
Athletes from all over the state lined up for a race that was unlike any other -- a race designed specifically to foster a passion for the sport.
It was just how flrunners.com founder, Jason Byrne, created it to be. Well, except for the missing trophies that were being held hostage by a rival fraternity at Florida Southern.
See, Byrne was only a few years older than some of the athletes lining up to race at the first flrunners.com invitational. A college student turned race director - managing college classes, developing a cross country historical database and news network, all while participating in fraternity pledge week.
The missing trophies didn't matter. Byrne had a full plate and a full heart for his intentions for the flrunners.com invitational.
"I had no idea what I was doing. Maybe I was too naive to be afraid," Byrne said. "I just knew it had to be about the sport and the people it could impact."
Impactful is just the start.
20 years later, the flrunners.com Invitational is a premier in-season championship race. Future olympians and innovators in the sport have raced, participated, volunteered, and dedicated serious efforts at this event.
Personal relationships made it possible. This sport is one that makes you earn respect. It didn't take long for Byrne to earn the respect of coaches and timers all over the state - making this event possible.
Year 20 is special. It marks a milestone not just for the meet, but for flrunners.com and the MileSplit network as a whole.
After all that he has done for this meet and this network for high school, middle school, and now elementary school cross country and track, it's only fitting that Byrne has a race named after him.
The two invitational races on Saturday at the flrunners.com will now be called the Jason Byrne Invitational races for years to come.
This weekend is about more than just a race. It's an event that will allow you to feel the pulse of the sport -- just as Byrne envisioned it to be 20 years ago.