Holloway Park event the largest in the state

One of the premier cross country running events of the year, the 2021 Hoka Invitational 22, featured more than 200 middle school, high school and college teams from Florida, Georgia and Texas. The event, the largest cross country meet in Florida, is now one the largest cross country events in the Southeast. It is held at Holloway Park in Lakeland.

Runners near the finish line during the HOKA event held at Holloway Park

Runners near the finish line during the HOKA event held at Holloway Park

History was made when 13 boys broke the 16 minute mark in the Race of Champions. Before this event, only 13 boys had ever broken the 16 minute, 5K barrier at Holloway Park.

In total, more than 4,500 runners from elementary school to collegiate athletes competed at the event.

Started in 2000 by Jason Byrne, then a sophomore at Florida Southern College, and a former intern with PCTSM, which helped him start the event. Held at Polk Community College in Winter Haven, the event flourished there for three years, doubling in size each year from 450 to 900 to 1,800 athletes.

Up until a few years ago, the meet called Titusville home. But the combination of the larger facility in Holloway Park – especially its vast number of spectator viewing spots – as well as the accommodations available in the area and, ultimately, Byrne’s history with PCTSM resulted in the event being recruited back to its original home.