On Friday, Oct. 18, 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 six things you need to know about the big event:
1. The 2019 race will be the 11th anniversary of the Nuttycombe Invitational. This year marks 11 years that the Wisconsin Badgers have hosted some of the top teams from around the country on campus for this premier race. Like the 10 years that have preceded the 2019 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 the "A" group, while an unlimited number can participate in race "B."
NUTTYCOMBE INVITATIONAL 2019: Schedule, teams and how to watch
3. The course for the invitational is named after a UW-River Falls runner. Thomas Zimmer, the UW-River Falls student-athlete and an avid 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 install a full irrigation system on the course. Guests are strongly encouraged to park at the neighboring Blackhawk Church.
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. The exterior loop is approximately 2,5000 meters and the interior loop measures in at 1,000 meters. Last year, fences were added on the home stretch leading to the finish line.
5. 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 go on to finish in the top two at the NCAA championships.
6. 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 2018's women’s national champion runner-up, 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:
MORGAN MCDONALD (2018 Champion): In his season, debut, McDonald won the individual title at the Nuttycombe event with an 8K time of 23:17.6. He battled reigning Iowa State's Edwin Kurgat for sole ownership of first place. This season, he returns as a junior with a mass of experience after his 2019 Indoor Track season where he became the first Badger in program history to complete the distance sweep and earn NCAA individuals title in the 3000 and 5000 meter races.
ALICIA MONSON (2018 Champion): Monson finished first in the women's race, mimicking her Wisconsin teammate, McDonald. She also competed in the 2019 Indoor Track NCAA Championship 5000 meter race and placed first with a time of 15:31.26. And looks to contend for the title this season as a junior. She was named Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year this year.
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 in 2017. In that same season, she was also named USTFCCCA Women's National Athlete of the Year and a Honda Sport Award winner for cross country.
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.
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.