TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- When several thousand attend a state high school cross country championship meet here in early November, it becomes the latest entry in a journal chronicling the success of an unlikely Tallahassee tourism attraction – a landfill.
Once an easily over-looked tract of more than 100 acres, Leon County's Apalachee Regional Park is now one of the nation's few venues designed for championship cross country running meets.
Since 2012, the former unused portion of the county landfill hosted an NCAA Regional, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) championships and is the home course for Florida State University's (FSU) nationally ranked team.
Located about nine miles from the downtown in Florida's capital, the park attracts joggers, hikers and mountain bikers when not used for running competitions. While residents enjoy the course and its scenic beauty, the business community relishes the revenue it generates.
Spending from teams and spectators brought nearly $4.0 million to the community last year. Local officials expect a bigger economic boost this year, thanks to more cross country events.
In cooperation with the Leon County Division of Tourism Development (Visit Tallahassee), the park and FSU host the Atlantic Coast Conference cross country championship on Oct. 30. A week later (Nov. 7), the FHSAA boys and girls championships return for the fourth consecutive year. Three other meets were held earlier this fall.
The growth in cross country events hosted by FSU, Leon County Schools and the local Gulf Winds Track Club prompted a meeting with county officials in late 2008. The county commission approved the necessary improvements with the goal of making the park a national sports venue, a goal initially identified in a 2004 report.
The original course, unveiled in 2009, received rave reviews from runners and coaches throughout the Southeast. The NCAA Cross Country Committee previewed the course in 2012, prior to major improvements made to the course for the 2014 NCAA Regional meet.
To accommodate crowds and thousands of runners, the county expanded parking, improved spectator areas and added a one-mile warm-up loop around an adjacent lake. Several miles of fiber optic cable now provide additional camera angles and timing stations on the course for large video display board in the main spectator area.
Community and Media Relations
SOURCE Visit Tallahassee