The Virginia Tech cross country team holds most of its practices and its home meets on the Buford Meredith Cross Country Course, a 3.1-mile course that sits on the Tech campus.
Tech has the luxury of competing and training on a course designed solely for cross country competition, affording the team an opportunity to have exclusive rights to the use of the facility. The course was built and opened for racing in 1993.
The course is named after Buford Meredith, a longtime athletics department employee who passed away in January of 2013 at the age of 78. At the time of his passing, Meredith, a grounds foreman, was the longest-tenured athletics department employee, having worked in athletics since 1962. Among his many duties, he oversaw the mowing and landscaping of the cross country course and the areas surrounding it, and caring for the course was one of his most beloved tasks.
The course served as the place for the Hokies’ most memorable moment as a cross country program. In October of 2012, the Hokies played host to the ACC Championships, and the Tech men’s team won its first ACC title. The Hokies’ Will Mulherin won the individual crown, setting a course record in the process. It marked the program’s first conference championship in 15 years.
The all-grass course provides an ideal surface for racing and training. Located on the southwest end of campus near the corner of Southgate Drive and U.S. 460, the course guides runners through a rural terrain of meadows, cornfields and wooded locations typical of the Tech surroundings.
The start-finish line sits behind the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and it winds the 3.1 miles past historical Smithfield Plantation and across Stroubles Creek. Runners run around a scenic duck pond next to the College of Veterinary Medicine and then parallel to Southgate Drive, one of the main arteries onto campus from U.S. 460. From there, a gentle turn leads runners parallel to U.S. 460 briefly before turning back toward the start-finish line. There is also a five-mile version of the course for the men.
“I think it’s one of the nicest settings for a cross country course I have ever seen,” Tech director of track and field and cross country Dave Cianelli said. “The fact that it is on campus makes it ideal for our teams to train and compete.”
Another key trait of the course is its proximity to campus facilities – the course is one of the few on-campus courses in the nation. Rector Field House, located just across the street from the College of Veterinary Medicine, allows athletes to warm up in perfect conditions. Rector serves as the home of Tech’s indoor track, and the outdoor Johnson-Miller Track Complex adjacent to Rector give Tech’s track and field and cross country programs symmetry when it comes to training and competition.
“There are very few schools with a cross country course and two tracks so close together,” Tech cross country coach Ben Thomas said. “The competition facilities here are unbeatable.”
The Hokies take advantage of their course, too. Usually, the course serves as the setting for as many as three events each fall, thus attracting top programs and top runners from around the nation.