On Friday, September 28th, many of the nation's best cross country runners will travel to Madison, Wisconsin and race on the legendary Thomas Zimmer Championship course for the Nuttycombe Invitational.
Here are the top seven things you need to know about the big event:
1. The 2018 race will be the tenth anniversary of the Nuttycombe Invitational. This year marks one decade that the Wisconsin Badgers have hosted some of the top teams from around the country on campus for this premiere race. Like the nine years that have preceded the 2018 rendition of the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, the men will race an 8k and the women will race a 6k. These distances align with the distances that the men and women will race at the NCAA championships in November.
2. The Invitational will feature two women’s races and two men’s races. Teams can enter teams in an “A” and a “B” race to give more athletes the chance to compete. Seven athletes per team can race in each category.
3. The course for the invitational is named after a UW-River Falls runner. Thomas Zimmer, the UW-River Falls student-athlete and a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers, gifted money to the school to help construct the course, and the route now bears his name. The current course is also supported by the funds from former Wisconsin swimmer Chuck LaBahn whose financial contribution helped instal a full irrigation system on the course.
4. The course will be challenging. Athletes will do multiple loops of the Zimmer Championship Course and will run through thick woods and over rolling hills.
5. The Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational will be a set-up race for athletes in preparation for the NCAA championship. For the Badgers in particular, the race will serve as a test for Wisconsin before pre-nationals two weeks later. The NCAA Championships this year will also be held in Madison, Wisconsin, making this year’s invitational an ideal trial run for athletes hoping to qualify and chase titles at the National Championships later this fall.
6. Teams that perform well at the Nuttycombe invitational have a history of doing well at the NCAA championship. Over half of the teams who have claimed gold in Wisconsin in September go on to finish in the top two at the NCAA championships.
7. This year’s race will feature some of most elite collegiate runners in the country. Several of the top athletes from last year’s championship will be racing at Nuttycombe this year, creating a deep talent pool and setting the stage for a fast weekend. Defending men’s national champions, Northern Arizona, and defending women’s national champions, New Mexico, will be fielding athletes for the event.
Here’s what the recent winners have been up to since they raced at the Nuttycombe event:
EDNAH KURGAT (2017 Champion): Kurgat went on to win the NCAA championships last year as a redshirt sophomore and will be returning as one of New Mexico’s greatest runners in school history. She ran a 19:23.2 at the Nuttycombe Invitational last year and will look to defend her title in 2018. Her successful 2017 cross country season also led her to being named USTFCCCA Women's National Athlete of the Year and a Honda Sport Award winner for cross country.
We want to wish Ednah much success at the upcoming @CWSA_HondaCup awards! This is one of the highest honors a student-athlete can receive in the nation. We are proud of Ednah & our @UNMLoboXCTF program. #GoLobos #Lobos4Life pic.twitter.com/pbF2C64k45— New Mexico Lobos (@UNMLOBOS) June 18, 2018
JUSTYN KNIGHT (2017 and 2016 Champion): A two-time winner of the Nuttycombe Invitational, Knight also finished his running career at Syracuse this spring with an individual NCAA title in the men’s 5,000m, an individual NCAA title in men’s cross country and a team title in the 2015 cross country championships. He has also represented Canada at the World Cross Country Championships in China and the World Championships in London.
BRENNA PELOQUIN (2016 Champion): Peloquin, a Boise State runner, captured the 2016 title at the Nuttycombe Invitational as a sophomore, and she also finished 6th in the NCAA championships that same year. In addition, she has racked up several other Top 10 invitational finishes throughout her career.
It's Race Week! 🏃♀️🏃— Boise State XC (@BroncoSportsXC) September 24, 2018
Broncos will get their first preview of the national championship course in Wisconsin, while a second group will be racing in Salem, Ore.! #BleedBlue #GiddyUp pic.twitter.com/kUZQ6VGqUf
ALLIE OSTRANDER (2015 Champion): Also from Boise State, Ostrander followed her Nuttycombe win with a second place finish at the NCAA championships in 2015 and also claimed two NCAA titles in the steeplechase. Ostrander took a redshirt year during her sophomore cross country and indoor track season, so she will have the chance to compete for the Broncos again in 2018.
MARC SCOTT (2015 Champion): Two years after his win at the Nuttycombe Invitational, Scott took the gold in the men’s 10,000m at the 2017 men’s outdoor track and field championship, Like Knight, he also represented his home country, Great Britain, in the 2017 World Championships in London. Scott was also a seven-time national champion during his career at Tulsa.