Cross country finishes are difficult to calculate. Comparing the times to other years and different courses makes the process of titling the fastest times in NCAA DI Cross Country history practically impossible. With the help of our record books (Men's | Women's), 25 men's and women's cross country times have been documented as the fastest finishes in NCAA DI cross country championships history.
We've pinpointed the dates and locations that radically changed the record books for both men's and women's cross country.
Men's cross country fastest finishes
Nov. 22, 1976. That was the date cross country was turned on its head. Three days before Thanksgiving, 11 of the top-25 fastest championship finish times on record occurred at the 1976 cross country national championship, hosted by North Texas State. The 38th annual men's NCAA DI Cross Country Championships included an average 45-degree temperature and clear visibility — great weather for a 10k race. Topographically, the terrain in Denton, Texas, is flat.
Kenyan-born Henry Rono of Washington State led the historic 10k with the fastest time ever recorded in NCAA DI men's cross country national championship history — a finishing time of 28 minutes, 6.6 seconds. About 10 seconds behind him (28:16.8), his WSU teammate Samson Kimombwa crossed the finish line and became the sole owner of the second fastest championship finish ever recorded. And 10 seconds after Kimombwa (28:26.5), Illinois' Craig Virgin rounded out the podium with his third-place finish in what was the third-fastest championship time recorded, at the time.
Rono bettered Virgin's time three years later with a 28:19.6 finish at the 1979 national championships — his third individual title (1976, 1977, 1979). He became only the third person in history to win three titles, making Rono one of the greatest distance runners in NCAA history.
Top-25 fastest finishes in men's cross country championships history:
|1||1976||1||North Texas||28:06.6||Henry Rono||Washington St.|
|2||1976||2||North Texas||28:16.8||Samson Kimombwa||Washington St.|
|3||1979||1||Lehigh||28:19.6||Henry Rono||Washington St.|
|4||1976||3||North Texas||28:26.5||Craig Virgin||Illinois|
|5||1976||4||North Texas||28:30.7||Herb Lindsay||Michigan St.|
|6||2012||1||Louisville||28:31.3||Kennedy Kithuka||Texas Tech|
|7||1977||1||Washington St.||28:33.5||Henry Rono||Washington St.|
|8||1976||5||North Texas||28:34.8||John Treacy||Providence|
|11||1976||6||North Texas||28:39:00||Wilson Waigwa||UTEP|
|12||1976||7||North Texas||28:43.1||Niall O'Shaughnessy||Arkansas|
|13||2011||1||Indiana St.||28:44.1||Lawi Lalang||Arizona|
|14||1981||1||Wichita St.||28:45.6||Mathews Motshwarateu||UTEP|
|16||1976||8||North Texas||28:46.4||Sammy Maritim||Texas-El Paso|
|17||2001||1||Furman||28:47:00||Boaz Cheyboiywo||Eastern Michigan|
|18||1979||3||Lehigh||28:47.3||Kipsubi Koske||New Mexico|
|19||1981||2||Wichita St.||28:48.4||Michael Musyoki||UTEP|
|20||1976||9||North Texas||28:49.6||Rudy Chapa||Oregon|
|21||1977||2||Washington St.||28:51:00||John Treacy||Providence|
|23||1976||10||North Texas||28:52.8||James Munyala||Texas-El Paso|
|25||1976||11||North Texas||28:54.3||James Peterson||Georgetown|
Women's cross country fastest finishes
The 37th annual NCAA DI Women's Cross Country Championships on Nov. 18, 2017 mirrored the men's 1976 outlier. The 6k race hosted by Louisville at the E. P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park set the scene for eight of the fastest championship finishes in NCAA DI women's cross country history.
Clouds enabled a 20-mph wind and 66-degree temperature for the early morning race. The mostly level Louisville region made for ideal running conditions.
New Mexico's Ednah Kurgat crossed the finish line at 19:19.5, about eight seconds ahead of Washington's Amy-Eloise Neale (19:27.0). The pair took home first and second placcec that day and became the top-two fastest finishes in women's cross country championship history.
Overall, Louisville has been the site of 16 of the fastest finishes in women's cross country championship history — including seven of the 10 fastest finishes ever recorded — though the school has only hosted the event three times in program history (2012, 2015, 2017).
Top-25 fastest finishes in women's cross country championships history:
|1||2017||1||Louisville||19:19.5||Ednah Kurgat||New Mexico|
|3||2012||1||Louisville||19:27.9||Betsy Saina||Iowa St.|
|4||2008||1||Indiana St.||19:28.1||Sally Kipyego||Texas Tech|
|T-5||2017||3||Louisville||19:28.6||Charlotte Taylor||San Francisco|
|T-5||2015||1||Louisville||19:28.6||Molly Seidel||Notre Dame|
|9||2003||1||UNI||19:30.4||Shalane Flanagan||North Carolina|
|10||2007||1||Indiana St.||19:30.9||Sally Kipyego||Texas Tech|
|11||2017||4||Louisville||19:31.2||Allie Ostrander||Boise St.|
|12||2014||1||Indiana St.||19:31.6||Kate Avery||Iona|
|T-13||2015||2||Louisville||19:33.6||Allie Ostrander||Boise St.|
|T-13||2012||4||Louisville||19:33.6||Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton||Wichita St.|
|15||2005||1||Indiana St.||19:33.9||Johanna Nilsson||Northern Arizona|
|16||2017||5||Louisville||19:34.0||Weronika Pyzik||San Francisco|
|17||2008||2||Indiana St.||19:34.9||Susan Kuijken||Florida St.|
|19||2017||7||Louisville||19:35.8||Weini Kelati||New Mexico|
|20||2002||1||Indiana St.||19:36.0||Shalane Flanagan||North Carolina|
|22||2008||3||Indiana St.||19:37.1||Tasmin Fanning||Virginia Tech|
|23||2014||2||Indiana St.||19:39.9||Sarah Disanza||Wisconsin|