FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Thousands of cross-country competitors from across the country will be visiting the University of Arkansas this weekend for the 34th annual Chile Pepper Country Festival.

For the first time in two years, junior high students will be joining the race that hosts collegiate and high school runners. The Chile Pepper run has approximately 6,500 runners and over 7,000 spectators, according to a press release. It is one of the largest cross-country festivals in the nation.

The Chile Pepper Festival starts Friday, September 30, and will end Saturday.

“Runners of all ages and capabilities are welcome to participate in the 1-mile race on Friday and the 10K open run on Saturday,” the press release states. “The two-day event takes place at the University of Arkansas Cross Country Course, located at The University of Arkansas Agri Park on Garland Avenue.”

The Chile Pepper race lets local high school competitors fund their cross-country program.

Over the past 34 years, the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival has helped cross-country programs raise more than $800,000.

A press conference hosting Razorback Cross Country coaches and local high school coaches will take place at 11:30 a.m. September 27 at Fossil Cove Brewing Company.

The race course consists of a combination of grass, cinder and uneven terrain, according to the website. Register here.