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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Regional Course Preview

This Saturday the NCAA Great Lakes Regional will be held on the campus of The Bowling Green State University. The men's race (10k) begins at 11:00 AM, with the women (6k) at 12:15.

The course is named for Mel Brodt, the long-time track and cross country coach at BGSU. The course is not the same one I ran on some fifteen years ago, nor is it the one in use for the last few years (due to campus construction). All but the final 200 or so yards is on the campus golf course.

Men's 10k course map Women's 6k course map

The Factors
Bowling Green and the surrounding area is, without hyperbole, one of the flattest places in America. One might assume that the XC course here is easy. Well, you know what happens when you assume.This is The Hill, so called because it's the only one anywhere in or near BG. It's much bigger than most people think it is because they rarely see it up close. The women will run up this once, the men twice. But that's not what makes this course difficult.

These are Bowling Green's wind turbines. We have enough wind here to light up Las Vegas. It is a major factor in any race held in these parts in the fall, winter or spring.

The weather forecast calls for a good amount of rain, which will turn the course into mud. The golf course does not drain well because BG is smack-dab in the middle of what was once the Great Black Swamp. Under steady rain, the swamp tries to reclaim the land.

The Course
The start:

The course narrows after about 250 yards and crosses a bridge:

After the bottom part of the loop shown on the course map, the runners will cross another bridge, this time over a small bit of pavement:

Now the runners head around the pond (the weird shape on the map with the black box in it):
and up The Hill:
then descending the hill, going back around the pond, and going by the start line. The men do another whole loop. Both men and women conclude the course by going around the baseball field and back next to the roadway:
They make a sharp right-hand turn, likely to have a large mud-hole in the middle:
and then it's less than 200 yards to the finish:

Fan Info
A few days back I gave a rundown about the town.

Parking is $10. If you're an XC fan, you're probably a cheapskate and don't want to pay that much. Free options require hoofing it, though. Try BG's Carter Park or side streets off of Wooster Street (the main drag); to get to the course, walk towards and then past the football stadium.

For best viewing, the spry spectator will probably run from the start to the 1 mile mark, back to the start area (and repeat for the men's race), and then head to the finish.

The less active spectator should bring some binoculars and walk to the top of The Hill. You can see most of the course from there:
and it's right by the finish, too:

Hope to see you there!

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