Putting the Country Back in Cross Country

In this article, we feature two new cross country meets for this fall--the La Junta and Rock Canyon (course segment shown above) Cross Country Invitationals. Photo by Alan Versaw.


While a few real cross country meets still exist in the state of Colorado, they're getting harder to find.


This fall, meets like the Chicken Creek Challenge (Mancos), the St. Vrain Invitational (Lyons), and the Chris Severy Invitational (Aspen) will have a little more company. And, if you're not already scheduled for September 26 or October 8, you may want to look into one or both of these meets.


On September 26, Rock Canyon will host their first-ever cross country invitational on open space immediately south of Rocky Heights Middle School which is, in turn, immediately south of Rock Canyon High School.  The course will start on a large, manicured field and finish on the track around the football field, but in between it has more topography than the entire state of Florida. The hills are neither brutally steep nor interminably long, but they do involve gradient. Coach Dan Davies picked this to be a challenging, yet moderately fast, course. My reading is that he succeeded on those counts. I'm looking forward to this meet.


Rock Canyon Invitational


If the combination of raw speed and nature is more your thing, check out the new La Junta Cross Country Invitational. The old La Junta XC course wound around some desolate and unforgiving patches of dirt and rocks out behind the school. No more. Coach Bruce Vining secured permission to use the grounds at Bent's Old Fort (located about midway between La Junta and Las Animas). Yes, you heard right, you can run a cross country meet in a national park unit this fall!


The Bent's Old Fort course takes two circuits around the grounds, skirting both a marsh and the Arkansas River, and taking occasional advantage of the shade of the large cottonwoods along the river. The trail is smooth, wide, flat, and at low elevation--all the ingredients needed for a fast race. And, by October 8, the worse of the Lower Arkansas Valley heat should be history.


La Junta Invitational


Have an interesting meet you'd like to have featured on Colorado Track XC? Send me a photo and a description of your meet. I'll try to make an article of it!