Located in a bucolic setting on the east side of Louisville, E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park (Sawyer) boasts one of America’s few championship-level 10K, 8K, and 5K cross country courses in an urban area with nearby hotels, restaurants and other amenities; the course has a long history of hosting championship events.
The Kentucky High School state championships were held on the property of what was then Central State Hospital for several decades staring in the early 1960s. The state park was created on this property in 1974 and, in the 1980s, played host to several Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and USA Track and Field championships. Six times in the 1990s, the USA Track and Field masters nationals were held at Sawyer at both eight and 10 kilometer distances under the guidance of the now-defunct Victory Athletic Club of Louisville.
In preparation for collegiate competition, in 2001 the course was reworked to its current design under the leadership of Louisville Sports Commission staff with support from officials from USA Track and Field and the NAIA. Since 2003, 16 NCAA and NAIA national championships have been decided at Sawyer, along with numerous NCAA and NAIA regionals, and Division I and Division II conference championships. For the past 22 years, the Louisville Sports Commission has staged the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic (now the Live in Lou Cross Country Classic) at Sawyer, annually one of the largest collegiate meets in the U.S.
Below is a list of major cross country events held at Sawyer:
1960 – 1980 Kentucky High School State Championships
1980 National AAU Championships
1981 USA Track & Field World Team Trials
1982 AAU Junior Regionals
1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999 USA Track & Field Masters Nationals
2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 NAIA National Championships
2002 – 2017 Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic
2010, 2014 NCAA Division II National Championships
2012, 2015, 2017 NCAA Division I National Championships
2016, 2019, 2021 NCAA Division III National Championships
2017 ACC Cross Country Championships
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