Monday, October 15, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 99 Van Cortlandt Park, 100 years of Cross Country History

I have never run at Van Cortlandt Park, and it may well be that I never will nor will I ever see the course or a meet there.  However it is a legend in American cross country history.   I've been to Belmont Park in Philadelphia where that course has been used by Philadelphia schools and universities for many years.  It is unchanging and in many places it is a well worn rut.  In the East , change is an anathema amongst track people.  They want to compare performances of 50 years ago with today's performances.  Thus at all costs the courses remain unchanged.  In reading about Van Cortlandt it is noted that for several years while the City Park management was refurbishing the park, the course had to be changed, and there is a lot of agony felt in the references to that fact.

The New York Times published an article (October 12, 2012)  by Mark Bloom  commemorating the 100th anniversary of cross country running in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.  Mr. Bloom's article follows on the first link.

The next link comes from Oregon remembering the 1969 NCAA cross country championships held at Van Cortlandt and won that year by Gerry Lindgren.  Steve Prefontaine was third in that race behind Lindgren and Mike Ryan of the Air Force Academy.

The third article is about the old water courses that ran through the park in colonial days.  The water is still there, however it runs through underground conduits.  Interesting article for history nuts and conservationists.

Below are some pictures I've culled from various sources.

NCAA's 1969
Pre and Lindgren on left, Donal Walsh of Villanova and Ron Bednarski UTEP on the right

underground stream under the park

The Van Cortlandt subway stop

Pre  1969


Meet probably 1920's

Course layout

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