When you combine together the history, the competition, and the course, the Wendy's Invitational is the total package.
Great Outdoor Provision Co. Presents the Featured Meet of Week 8:
Hosted by East Mecklenburg at McAlpine Park, Charlotte
(Schedule, teams attending, other info)
This is the last of the major invitationals held at McAlpine, although conference and regional meets are still forthcoming, and of course Foot Locker South will be held here in late November. Wendy's is one of the msot exclusive meets in the Southeast: difficult to get into and coveted for the competition and the times the course produces. There is a lot of history here, as meet director Larry McAfee explains:
The Wendy’s Invitational began in 1975 at Davidson College as the Charlotte Track Club Cross Country Carnival, and was conceived by Richard Prince of Myers Park HS, Thermon Gibbons of the Athletic Footwear Specialty Store, and Larry McAfee of East Mecklenburg HS. It was held at Davidson College in conjunction with the European Cross Country Meet held there for colleges and age group runners. In 1976, there were no invitational meets in NC for HS athletes, so our runners had little or no opportunity to compete with athletes outside of their immediate area. The first year, we had 7 schools competing (Myers Park, East Meck, Independence, Charlotte Latin, South Meck, Lincolnton, and West Meck) with East Meck winning the event and David Hankins of East Meck taking 1st place individually. [Note: girls did not officially begin cross country in North Carolina until 1980.]
In 1979, the meet was renamed the Coaches Invitational (because Richard Prince, Larry McAfee, and Jimmy Steele of Independence HS provided the funds to put on the event), and was going to be moved to McAlpine Greenway (the 2nd year that competition was held on the newly developed cross country course, which was designed and built by Larry McAfee and the East Meck Cross Country team). However, heavy rainfall and flooding at McAlpine Greenway forced us to move the meet to Matthews where we ran the 5K road that was used for the Stumptown 5K. This was also the first year that we had individual competition for girls with Joan Nesbit (1996 Olympian) from East Meck winning the girls division, although the girls and boys ran together with the girls being scored separately.
The race continued as the Coaches Invitational for several years while the number of schools competing increased to about 25. In the mid-80s, Richard Prince approached Wendy’s about sponsorship of the event and they graciously agreed to be our sponsor, which enabled us to upgrade our awards and allow for increased numbers of teams and athletes. We broke the races into 2 divisions [Open and Invitational plus individuals (5 races)…eventually adding the 3A division and more individual races]. Over the years, we have had schools from NC, SC, VA, GA, TN regularly competing plus occasionally schools from NY, KY, FL, AL, and Canada.
There are over 40 schools on our wait-list and we rarely have more than 1-2 schools who do not return from one year to the next. We do not solicit new entries and have limited the number of schools to try to provide quality races for each division. This meet could easily have over 5000 entries if we allowed every school that indicates an interest to compete; however, we do not feel that this would allow us to maintain the quality event we desire (we would either need to increase the number of races or have a facility that we feel would comfortably accommodate larger fields plus have more parking available).
Recent Meet Records
(Drawn from results in the MileSplit database)
Once again, ladies and gentlemen, McAlpine Park! Rather than drone on about the course, saying things that have already been said, let's make a few statistical comparisons, shall we?
Comparing the 2011 Wendy's to its past versions:
Comparing McAlpine to Wake Med:
High School Course Records
Directions to McAlpine
GPS Address: 8711 Monroe Rd, Charlotte, North Carolina
- From Greensboro, Raleigh, and points East: directions via Google Maps.
- From Fayetteville, Wilmington, and the Sandhills: directions via Google Maps
- From Rock Hill, Columbia, and central South Carolina: directions via Google Maps
- From Asheville and southwestern North Carolina: directions via Google Maps
- From Spartanburg and western South Carolina: directions via Google Maps
- From Winston-Salem: directions via Google Maps
- From northwestern North Carolina: directions via Google Maps
Things to Do Outdoors in the Charlotte Area
Past suggestions have included the US Whitewater Center and the Lake Norman Area. We have also highlighted the Great Outdoor Provision Co.'s expert tips for camping and hiking in the area. This week, a slightly different tactic: if you care about preserving beautiful outdoor recreation areas, consider participating in the Catawba River Basin Clean Sweep, going on this Saturday at many locations. Here are a few other suggestions for our last featured meet in Charlotte this year:
- For off-road biking enthusiasts, there are several nearby sites specifically designed for mountain biking.
- Paddlers can find a wide variety of routes on the Catawba River.
- Anglers can find several locations (including McAlpine Park!) for family fishing or for more serious sport (but maybe think twice about cooking).