Hillsborough County has introduced a new 5K cross-country running series — hoping to get more residents to check out its collection of conservation parks and nature preserves.
It’s called the Run Hillsborough 5K.
Created by Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation, and Conservation & Environmental Lands Management, the program features races throughout the year at different parks located around the county, taking runners and walkers through an assortment of scenic trails and off-road terrains.
The program launched in October — with the first race at Wortham Park in Riverview.
The second 5K race is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 8 a.m., at Lake Park in Lutz.
Upwards of 250 participants are expected. Prizes will be awarded for the top three male and female finishers. All participants will receive a T-shirt and can claim a medallion at the end of the event.
The race promises to be unlike many local 5Ks, that are run on streets or hard, flat surfaces.
That’s because runners and walkers will have to traverse rough and uneven terrain, with loose sand and large roots, passing by multiple lakes, over cypress swamps and through pine flatwoods.
The 3.1-mile route at Lake Park was mapped out by Chris Kiddy, program coordinator for the county’s Conservation & Environmental Lands Management Department, who also helps oversee the Run Hillsborough initiative.
Portions of the course take place on some new trail extensions that were added to the park within the past year, he said.
“It’s a really nice trail,” Kiddy said. “It takes you through some really nice wooded areas, takes you through a couple of lakes — just a really nice nature experience.”
Run Hillsborough 5Ks will be held quarterly, rotating the location each time. The county someday plans to put together a cumulative series with a grand prize for the top finisher of all the races.
“We really want to promote the running that you can have in our preserves. They’re excellent places to go and jog,” Kiddy said. “It’s just a great way to get people to come out and see all of our great parks, and kind of experience it in a different way.”
Besides offering fresh air and exercise in a nature setting, Kiddy also noted the Run Hillsborough program was developed to also introduce locals to the many features of the county’s parks and preserve properties.
The 589-acre Lake Park, for instance, offers more than just a series of trails and wildlife observation.
It, too, offers archery ranges, kayaking, horseback riding, BMX racing, a radio-controlled (RC) car track and primitive campgrounds, among other amenities.
Kiddy coined it as “one of the most unique parks in Hillsborough County.”
“If you’re not familiar with Lake Park, this is a great chance to get out and see what an amazing park this is. It’s got all kinds of different things,” Kiddy said.
Registration for the Run Hillsborough 5K at Lake Park costs $30 and will be open through the day of the event. Walkers and dogs are also welcome.
For information and to register, visit HCFLGov.net/RunHC.
Run Hillsborough 5K at Lake Park
What: Run Hillsborough 5K features races throughout the year at different parks located around the county. The races allow participants to compete against other racers on a journey through nature preserves, conservation parks, streams, trails, and a variety of terrains.
When: Dec. 15 at 8 a.m. (Packet pickup begins at 7 a.m.)
Where: Lake Park, 17302 Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz, FL 33548
Cost: $30 per participant
Info: Visit HCFLGov.net/RunHC
Published December 12, 2018