Cross Country Announces 68th Aztec Invitational

March 12, 2012

SAN DIEGO -

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The 68th annual Aztec Cross Country Invitational has been set for Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at San Diego's Balboa Park, head coach Shelia Burrell announced today.

"This meet promises to feature some of the top collegiate club teams and distance athletes around," Burrell said. "San Diego State is rebuilding its distance program back to the level it achieved in the late 1970's and early-1980's, when our women sent individuals and teams to the NCAA national championships. We have great distance tradition here on The Mesa and our longstanding invitational is something we are building on."

That tradition dates back to the mid-1960's, when SDSU's men's program captured the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships for three consecutive years (1965-67).

Information and registration for the meet is now open at the links with this announcement.

The Women's Open 5K starts things off at 8 a.m. PT, and will be followed by the 8:30 a.m. Women's Invitational (5K). The Men's Invitational, which is an 8K, will get underway at 9 a.m., with the Men's Open (8K) to follow at 9:30 a.m.

After the four invitational and open sections, once again SDSU will be holding a Community 5K race at 10 a.m. as a part of the Aztec Cross Country Invitational. The Community race is open to runners of all abilities, ages and genders. This will be the fifth running of the Community race, which was also held in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

The Aztec Invitational is one of the the oldest continuous collegiate cross country meets in the United States. The first meet, which only included men's teams, was held on the San Diego State campus in 1944. As the campus grew, SDSU's home cross country course was moved to Balboa Park. The current 5K layout for women at Balboa Park was first run in 1977. In 2001, the meet was cancelled because of the 9/11 tragedy, so the 58th running was held in 2002. In past years, up to 75 universities, colleges and club teams have participated in a single meet. Elite distance women like Monica Joyce (SDSU, 1982; 1984 Olympics, Los Angeles), Lynn Kanuka (SDSU, 1982; 1984 Olympics, Los Angeles; 1988 Olympics, Seoul), Joan Hanson (Arizona, 1981, 1984 Olympics, Los Angeles), Shannon Rowbury (Duke, 2005; 2008 Olympics, Beijing) and her late teammate, Sally Meyeroff (Duke, 2005) have run in the Aztec Invitational. A computerized list of results, athletes and teams for the past 15 years can be found at the following link.

http://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/Results/CourseHistory.aspx?Course=5432
(Click on 8000 meters to see the men.)

The opening mile of the women's 5K course crosses grass, pavement and dirt trails and is relatively flat, except for one 40-meter uphill about 800 meters from the start. The second mile offers challenging, rolling terrain, beginning with a sharp downgrade, "Powder Hill," and ending with a brutal 100-meter incline known as the "Concrete Switchback." The last mile and a fraction is completely flat along a seemingly never-ending row of tall palm trees.

The first 1 ¾ miles of the men's 8K course starts by essentially running women's course in reverse. It's flat and fast, then down the "Concrete Switchback," up "Powder Hill," then cut over to the start of the women's course. The men then follow the women's course for the final five kilometers. Both courses are very challenging. With a little mobility, spectators can view much of the race.

"Even though it's still six months and a whole outdoor track season away, I'm really excited about this meet, which typically marks the start of many institution's cross country programs," newly appointed distance coach Michael Dunne said. "Our ladies will be training hard this summer to uphold the tradition of excellence that past Aztecs have done so well. This is great event with a breathtaking course. I encourage colleges, clubs and the entire San Diego distance community to come out, run with us or just watch some competition."