HUNTSVILLE, AL – The City of Huntsville hosted a ribbon cutting today to open its newest athletic and recreational feature in John Hunt Park – a championship-caliber cross country running course.
The scenic course is 10-meters wide with a manicured grass surface, varied grade changes, and multiple spurred loops for various distance options including 5K, 6K, 8K, and 10K. The course accommodates high school, NCAA, and USA Track & Field needs for training and competition events.
“This is a world class course that puts Huntsville on the circuit as a premier running venue,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “Being the propulsion capital of the world, I think it’s only fitting we have a course where people can see just how fast they can go, too.”
Designed to meet NCAA specifications, the cross country running course has timing infrastructure at each mile and kilometer markers for the runners to gauge their time during races. The irrigated course takes advantage of the natural varied terrain, which includes five ponds, mature and flowering trees, and spectacular views.
“Runners will be hard-pressed to find another championship course that is more beautiful and user-friendly,” said Steve Ivey, Director of Parks & Recreation.
For non-runners, there is 1.5 miles worth of ADA accessible rubberized walking trails nearby. These trails were constructed made from recycled tires, providing an environmentally friendly permeable surface for water to filtrate. As well as reducing erosion, this option helps saves usable park space for other activities.
The new cross country course welcomes its first tournament on Saturday, Sept. 21, with the Southern Showcase 5K. Sponsored by Huntsville High, the race is expected to draw more than 45 teams and 1,700 runners.
“This one event equates to $337,000 in economic impact to our community,” said Ralph Stone, Director of the Huntsville Sports Commission. “Every athletic event in John Hunt Park brings in more dollars for our hotels and restaurants.”
The course is just one component of the City’s investment to improve recreation options in John Hunt Park.
John Hunt Park Cross Country Running Course Design/Contracting Team: Bostick Landscape Architect, Hyde Engineering, J. M. Phillips –Civil Engineer, Eagle Golf & Athletics, Inc., Commercial Landscape Service, Inc., Merit Construction, City of Huntsville departments of Public Works, General Services, Landscape Management, GIS, and Parks & Recreation