The Iowa State track and cross country program took yet another step in creating one of the nation’s elite training environments this summer, completing the irrigation of its championship-caliber cross country course.
The Iowa State Cross Country Course, first constructed in 1995, was the first facility in the nation designed exclusively for competitive cross country racing. Several cross country-only courses around the nation have been developed since its establishment, including Wisconsin’s Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course and Indiana State’s LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
The Cyclones are ahead of the curve again, adding an irrigation system throughout the course. The facility spans an area of 212,000 square meters (approx. 52 acres) and incorporates pop-up sprinklers across its 4K, 6K, 8K and 10K courses. The system makes the venue the NCAA’s lone fully-irrigated, cross country-only course.
The renovation features an upgraded home stretch and finish line area. The final 400-meter straightaway is a well-tended sprint to the finish with a chain-link fence barrier between the fans and the course. The finish line is marked by a brick-pillar, iron-trellised arbor. The course upgrades also include a 1600-meter, soft-surface training loop located at the center of the facility.
The Iowa State cross country course has been home to two Big 12 Championships (1996, 98), two NCAA Midwest Regional Championships (1997, 2013) and two NCAA Championships (1995, 2000). The course is also the slated venue of the 2017 NCAA Midwest Regional and will likely play host to the Big 12 Championships in the near future, having not hosted the event since 2008. The irrigation and finish-line project totals a $500,000 investment into the program’s future.
The overhaul at the cross country course is one of several recent renovations the track and cross country program has seen in the past few years. The Cyclone Sports Complex opened in the fall of 2012, providing a top-notch outdoor track. The track includes 4 long-jump runways and two pole-vault areas to go with over 150,000 square feet of throws space.
The Bill and Karen Bergan Track is a part of the $13-million Cyclone Sports Complex, home to ISU softball, soccer and track and field, and is set to host the 2015 Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships this spring.
The Cyclones spend the winter months training at one of the nation’s top indoor facilities in the Lied Recreation-Athletic Center and Harry Hoak Track. The Lied Recreation Center is complete with a 300-meter track, throws space and a turf surface spanning over 3,000 square meters.
The Harry Hoak Track was resurfaced in 2013 and plays host to two meets on an annual basis in the ISU Classic and the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships. The ISU Classic is one of the nation’s premier NCAA-qualifying events, accounting for over 15% of the 2014 NCAA-Championship field across men’s and women’s middle-distance and distance events. The $13-million facility has been home to the conference championships six times and is set for a seventh this upcoming February.
The newly-renovated track locker rooms are complete with individual, wooden-locker space and two televisions. The rec center is also home to training areas to Iowa State wrestling, who shares a recovery area that includes a sauna and ice bath.
Around the nation, many programs can showcase one or two of the indoor/outdoor/cross country facilities, but only a select few boast the championship-level trifecta like the Cyclones.