The third annual King of the Hill event, hosted by Christopher Columbus High School and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, featured a record breaking 53 schools with over 1,200 athletes. Teams from all over Miami-Dade County came to race at Tropical Park because of the course’s unique aspect.
“This is the only cross-country race all season long that is not located at Larry and Penny Park and is where I used to run when I was on the Columbus cross-country team so it is nice to host it here and let the kids race somewhere different and challenging,” says Columbus Cross-Country Coach, Erick Pino.
The work that goes on behind the scenes of the King of the Hill event is truly the hardest part of this race course. Columbus and Lourdes planned out every detail weeks before the race took place in order to create an event that is as perfect as possible for the runners and schools.
“To make this event possible it takes quite a bit of time and effort because you have to wait for every team to register and you can not set up until the day of,” says Erick Pino.
Not only is it hard to organize the event but it also takes a lot of preparation on the runners end. Tropical Park is one of the hardest race courses to run in Florida due to its tough terrain. It is iconically known for its hill which is probably one of the hardest obstacles a runner can face during a race. Therefore, runners start preparing for the course in the beginning of Summer so that they are able to conquer all that Tropical Park’s course gives them.
“We started preparing in the middle of June because we knew a lot of competitive teams were coming to race and we wanted to keep up with them every step of the way,” says Columbus JV Runner, Guido Samanez.
For Columbus Varsity Runner, Deshay Fernandes the preparation certainly paid off as he finished second in the race and led Columbus to a fifth place victory.
After the third year of success for this event, they are already beginning to make plans for next year using new ways to improve. Even after a record year for schools and athletes, they have plans to expand the competition by inviting teams from North Florida. One thing is for sure, no matter how many changes they make toward the event, it will never leave Tropical Park.
With Contributions by Sebastian Valdes-Denis