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Cross Country Running

Van Cortlandt Park's Cross Country running trail has been a Mecca for the sport for 100 years. The course opened in 1913 looping throughout the park. In the past races took place on the golf course and on other trails. In the Moses era when many city highways were developed (1930s - 1950s), the cross-country trail was re-routed to accommodate three major thoroughfares that were built through Van Cortlandt Park.

The Cross Country trail bridge was added to link two divided sections of the park, and is still in use today. The park's hilly geology of Fordham Gneiss outcrops offers great challenges for runners. The steepest part, known as "The Wall," tests every runner's stamina. Starting in the flats of the Parade Ground and circling over Vault Hill, the course winds through the Northwest Woods and ends back at the Parade Ground.

Every weekend in the fall, races are held, the largest being the Manhattan College Cross Country Invitational (MCXCI), which has drawn approximately 12,000 high school participants annually from across the continent. It is not only the largest event in Van Cortlandt Park but also, according to the organizers, the largest high school cross country meet in the country.

The Cross Country Trail is not just for competitive athletes and hardcore runners. Recreational runners hit the trail year-round. The course promotes good health through exercise and enjoying the great outdoors. Local running groups such as the Van Cortlandt Track Club, New York Road Runners and other organized groups are available for recreational and competitive training and events.

Several times a year, the Conservancy meets with members of the Cross Country Committee from our Community Council to raise issues and discuss solutions for running events. The Cross Country Committee includes representatives from public, independent and Catholic high schools; colleges; and running organizations.

Many runners who competed in their youth come back to visit the trail, sometimes after decades of absence. They often marvel at the trail's improvements, and their faces glow as they remember good times and test endurance.

If you have fond memories of the trail and would like to help sustain its future, please contribute. There are many ways to help and to continue enjoying the trail. Whether you run weekly or haven't been to the park in decades, come visit us soon!