From the course to the awards, the Greensboro Invitational provides one of the most unique cross country experiences.
Great Outdoor Provision Co. Presents the Featured Meet of Week 6:
Greensboro Cross Country Invitational
Hosted by Greensboro Pacesetters at Hagan Stone Park, Pleasant Garden
(Schedule, teams attending, other info)
At 28 years and running, this is one of the oldest invitationals in the state. Check out the meet history provided by Meet Director Charlie Brown (Southwest Guilford/Greensboro Pacesetters):
It was started when I was the coach at Greensboro Day School and my old high school Coach Richard Smith was at Grimsley. We both wanted to have a meet with a few of the good teams in the area but had no where to put one on. John Erickson was a senior and told me he had the greatest place in the world for an XC meet. I thought John was a little full of it but I met him at Hagan Stone Park and looked around. It seemed to be [a hidden gem of a park] in the middle of nowhere and no one knew the park existed. They let me set up a course out there with the trails they already had in place. The course originally was going to go like the 8k does now but I came upon a large black big stick across the trail. As I got closer, the big black stick moved. It was a big black snake. The course then went in the direction it does now.
The meet grew at a steady pace and we added events as it got bigger. The one thing that helped us hugely was a SeTRAC grant program done by the hotel association. This allowed us to purchase equipment for the big meets as we got bigger and more out of state teams came to run. All the clocks, golf carts, fencing and equipment is all done by grants we can sometimes get. We have grown the meet with no sponsors and must break even with the amount of entry fees we charge. One of the cooler parts of the meet is the awards. About 1993 or so, my track club was in Tijuanna mexico and I purchased an ironwood owl. About 2 years later, we used them as awards and everyone thought they were great and unique. Since then, I must make a trip each year and go to Tijuanna and get the Ironwood eagles and owls. There have been some crazy stories about getting that many boxes across the border and then shipping them from CA back to here.
With its combination of top-flight in-state teams, visiting teams from neighboring states, and also college races later in the day, the competitive atmosphere of this meet is fantastic. The rapid pace of the meet's operation is also a factor: because the finish line is not in the same place as the starting line (see below), the Pacesetters can run races as often as every 10 minutes. The meet is well-managed and a fun experience for everyone (although running back and forth between start and finish can wear a coach out!). After all the rain this week the course might be muddy, but the forecast will be perfect for a September race: cool temperatures (high of 72) with clouds and light rain. Warmer than last weekend, for sure, but still great running weather!
Recent Meet Records
(Drawn from results submitted to NCRunners)
The site of numerous conference and regional championship meets, Hagan Stone Park has a rich, deep past in North Carolina cross country (arguably second only to McAlpine in its importance). The course is fairly unique in the fact that it starts at one place and then finishes at another, so you have to watch out for enthusiastic spectators (and harried coaches) hustling back and forth down the road between the two. The initial half-mile of the course is a "figure eight" as the runners start downhill and loop around the backstop on an adjacent field, before returning to the starting area. This is where their initial adrenaline gets a boost, as they loop past all the spectators, before the course takes them away from the crowds. After the figure-eight start, the course goes into the woods for the majority of the 5K distance, on wide and well-maintained trails. This portion of the race can get lonely and the runners have to maintain their focus, although a few coaches and spectators do make it to the far side to cheer. When the course emerges from the woods, the race is almost over. The runners loop around the lake in full view of the spectators, and then wind their way uphill to the finishing field.
Hagan Stone is a reasonably fast course when it is dry, although not in the league of McAlpine. The grass surface and lack of spectators on the quiet middle two miles of the course might have that effect, and the uphill finish definitely breaks some runners. It makes for a true cross-country experience: good terrain, technical sections with lots of turns, some areas with great spectator access and others isolated in the woods. The course is pretty similar in its times to Beeson Park, home of the NCHSAA State Championship, which makes this good preparation for the championship season.
(Greensboro Pacesetters' website)
Hagan Stone Top 100 All-Time (High School)
(Courtesy of George Phillips at NCPrepTrack.net)
(Using 2010 Greensboro Invitational and 2010 Wendy's Invitational)
(Using 2010 Greensboro Invitational and 2010 4 Runners Only Invitational)
NOTE: last year's Greensboro Invitational was beset by very heavy rain, so the times do not compare fairly.
- From the Charlotte area and most of South Carolina: via Google Maps
- From Asheville: via Google Maps
- From Winston-Salem and western North Carolina: via Google Maps
- From Raleigh, Durham, and eastern North Carolina: via Google Maps
- From central Virginia: via Google Maps
- From western Virginia: via Google Maps
- From eastern Virginia: via Google Maps
Things to Do Outdoors Near Greensboro
The Triad offers a wide variety of acitivites, but here are some that are easily accessible from southern Greensboro:
- Local hikes from Great Outdoor Provision Co.
- For a short nature walk in the middle of the city, check out the Bog Garden at Benjamin Park. Similarly, try the Greensboro Arboretum.
- If you want to do some fishing, you don't even have to leave Hagan Stone Park!
- If you don't mind a little drive, visit the North Carolina Zoo (they have TWO baby gorillas, and a tremendous open African grassland exhibit).
And finally, though it's not an outdoor activity, you should check out the International Civil Rights Museum for the history and power of it all.