Hundreds compete in 20th annual Union Hill Empire Mine Run |

Hundreds compete in 20th annual Union Hill Empire Mine Run

Fifth grade's second place finisher McKenna Lechner from Foresthill receives a high-five from Grass Valley Charter School student Zoey Torres at Union Hill School's 20th annual cross country run at Empire Mine in Grass Valley Wednesday.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Around 500 young runners traversed the trails at Empire Mine in Grass Valley for the 20th annual Union Hill Empire Mine Run, Wednesday.

“It was really good” said the race organizer and Union Hill cross country coach Dominic Albano. “It’s a fun event for county schools and on a beautiful trail.”

The race featured a 1.2 mile course in which cross country runners from 16 different local elementary and junior high schools competed on.

Albano said the popularity of the event is due to the beauty of the trail and the fun atmosphere.

“I heard from parents, coaches and runners that this is their favorite event of the year,” said Albano. “They look forward to it every year.”

Albano, who dresses as a cowboy for the annual event, started the “western themed” Union Hill Empire Mine Run 20 years ago with 40 runners from Union Hill. Since then, the event has grown to the 500 participants it has today.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” he said.

Medals were awarded to 4-6 grade racers that finished in the top-20 in their respective age and gender groups. The top-15 in the junior high races earned medals.

Albano added the event wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Empire Mine staff and the many parent volunteers.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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