Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational
Celebrating our 69th Year, the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational has become our nation's largest cross country invitational. Last year a record 25,000 participants competed over our famed 3 mile cross country course. The names "Valley Loop", "Switchbacks", "Poop Out Hill" and "Reservoir Hill" have become part of cross country legend. The course has changed little over the last 68 years, making it one of the few courses where different generations can compare times.
With races starting every 8 minutes or less, along with the famous Mark Guitierrez designed t-shirts, live webcast and the huge "Big Screen", the event has become a "Lifetime" experience to the hundreds of thousands of runners who have competed in the invitational.
The Real Story
The History of the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational
When Cross Country was in its infancy in California, Mt. San Antonio College decided to help promote the new sport. By establishing an invitational, schools who might otherwise not have a chance to meet could come together in a fair and equitable competition. At that time, there were no other opportunities, no regional, state or interstate championships.
The inaugural 1948 Mt. SAC Invitational had two divisions (both for men and boys) one for high schools and one for junior colleges. At that time, there were not many high schools or community colleges in California and cross country running only involved a rather special (sometimes considered "strange") group of guys who wanted to run long distances in the Fall. In those days there were almost no runners or joggers on the roads. Cross country running was still basically a European phenomenon and not something Americans considered the thing to do.
At the beginning, high school cross country consisted of 1.2 to 2 mile races while their collegiate counterparts were running 2.5 to 3.1 miles (four-year colleges up to four miles). Believe it or not, most ran barefooted with protection coming from the thickness of calluses they had developed on the bottom of their feet. The calluses became so thick, they would often tear off leaving a raw and bloody mess of tissue exposed beneath. The smarter runners often used a thin gymnastic-type shoe for protection.
Needless to say, much has changed in Cross Country since Mt. SAC's first Cross Country Invitational back in 1948. From 148 runners representing ten high schools and nine community colleges in 1948, the event has blossomed to more than 23,000 athletes representing over 500 schools. There is now a middle school and elementary school division to help introduce youths to the fun and enjoyment of running. Boys and girls, men and women are all involved today in the invitational - all running in shoes since 1965.
Today, the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational is our nation's largest and most prestigious Cross Country Competition. It still functions to bring athletes, who otherwise may not meet, together on a challenging course. The course has changed little over the years, thus making for records and performance comparisons that are truly meaningful.
The meet's philosophy has remained as constant as the course...Promoting Cross Country as a great individual and team sport, while building confidence, self-respect and friendship among the thousands of participating athletes.