HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Many of the top high school cross country runners from across the nation and beyond will arrive at John Hunt Park when the third annual Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championship kicks off on Saturday.

The series of 5K races will take place at John Hunt Park’s Cross Country Course. Race organizers said over 3,000 runners are registered for the event.

News 19 spoke with co-race director Will Rodgers who said that last year’s event brought in more than $1M in revenue for the city.

“In terms of spectators and siblings and family it’s probably going to be 12 to 15,000 people out here on Saturday,” Rodgers said. “We’re really excited about it, and it’s going to bring lots of heads and beds and tax revenue to the city.”

The Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championship was created in Huntsville in 2020. After many national championship meets were canceled that year, Rodgers said he and other organizers wanted to offer a local alternative. John Hunt Park offers the necessary amenities, including a championship-caliber cross-country course with various distance options.

Since 2020, the event has grown in both size and prestige. The course at John Hunt Park is currently home to both the boys’ and girls’ high school national 5K records.

In 2020, Jenna Hutchins broke the girls’ national record with a time of 15:58.42. In 2021, Colin Sahlman broke the boys’ national record with a time of 14:03.29. Also in Huntsville in 2021, a record-breaking 79 boys ran a 5K in under 15 minutes.

Huntsville Sports Commission Director of Marketing and Communications Brooke Izzo said the city is working to bring more nationally recognized sporting events to the city, and the facilities at John Hunt Park are a central part of that plan.