America's Largest Cross Country Runs

Cross Country Runner
Abbreviated as CC or XC, cross country is a running event where runners compete to complete a course over open or rougher terrain. The courses during these events can include anything from grass, mud, woodlands, hills, gravel roads, minor obstacles, flat ground, and water. Cross-country events may feature competing teams or individuals, with the course typically being anywhere from 4 to 12 kilometers or 2.5 to 7.5 miles long.
Runners are judged based on individual times and teams by a points-scoring method. Men and women of all ages compete, and cross-country runs generally are held during autumn and winter.


Mt. SAC is billed, and rightly so, as one of the most significant cross-country meets in the world, often hosting more than 12,000 performances in over 100 races spanning two full days of competition. Every fall, hundreds of schools and thousands of teams make the pilgrimage to Walnut, California.
Mt. San Antonio College and Hilder Lodge Stadium are located in Walnut, California, between the San Gabriel Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The Hilmer Lodge Stadium welcomed the return of this legendary cross-country event and Mt. SAC relays in 2022 after a long 7-year hiatus.
Mt. SAC often hosts the world's largest Cross Country Track Meet; in fact, 2022 was its 74th Annual Mt. SAC XC Invitational. Athletes from elementary school level to community college gather over two weekends to compete in its famous courses. The cross-country course is three miles long, featuring the infamous climb-up to the water tanks. It is considered one of the most challenging cross-country courses in the nation. Runners begin on a long airstrip and run over three hills. The Valley Loop is a flat loop at the beginning of the race where runners generally overtake others; the first mile is rapid due to the flat and hard surface.
The mile is followed by switchbacks up the side of the first hill, consisting of four tight-knit hairpin turns. The switchbacks are incredibly technical as runners are often closely packed in this area, and the hill is steep and loosely packed. Another infamous site, the "poop out" hill, is the most vertical and shortest hill on the course. The final climb, called Reservoir Hill, is a steep and steady uphill run before the race loops back to the beginning of the airstrip.
The Mt. SAC cross-country has been a tradition since 1948.

USATF National Club Cross Country Championships

USATF (USA Track & Field) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running, and race walking in the United States. USATF is based in Indianapolis and encompasses the world's oldest organized sports.
USA Track & Field annually holds the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, a cross-country competition for US-run clubs. The Championships most often feature a 10K men's race and a 6K women's race, with the course changing yearly.
The first recorded race was held in Orlando, Florida, in 1988, and the latest was held in San Franciso, California, in 2022.
To qualify for the race, you must be a USATF member—whether as a team or an individual—and all athletes must be citizens of the United States and eligible to represent the U.S. in the international competition to be eligible for team scoring, medals, and prize money.

NCAA Men's Division Cross Country Championships

The National Collegiate Athletic Association holds the NCAA Division | Men's Cross Country Championship every autumn. The NCAA is a nonprofit organization regulating student athletics programs amidst at least 1,100 schools within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, helping over 500,000 college student-athletes compete annually in college sports.
Before 1957, the NCAA was a single division for all schools. That year, the NCAA split into the University Division and the College Division. In 1973, the current-day NCAA three-division system of Division I, Division II, and Division III was adopted.
Since 1938, except in 1943 and 2020, the NCAA has hosted the men's cross-country championships. Teams compete in one of nine regional championships to qualify, where the top two teams automatically advance, and thirteen additional teams are chosen as at-large selections.

McQuaid Invitational

Founded in 1965 by Bob Bradley to showcase great athleticism and competition in cross country, The McQuaid Invitational has consistently delivered on that. The first meet at Genesee Valley Park in Rochester featured 12 schools and 290 runners. In 2017, the McQuaid Invitational featured 256 schools and more than 8,000 runners. Two thousand twenty-two numbers were also close to 2017, making this cross-country event one of the largest.
2022 marked the 57th Annual McQuaid Invitational, and the National Federation sanction requested twenty states and two Canadian provinces schools invited to compete. The schedule had 23 races, including the Bob Bradley Premier, five boys varsity, five girls varsity, and 5 J.V. races: 3 for boys and 2 for girls, two for sophomore races, and 6 for junior high races.
In 2021, the path was modified to move the expressway loop to the grass on the golf course and a minor update in the final ½ mile by the Dogwood and Hawthorne shelters. The varsity course is 3 miles, while the Jr. High course is 1.56 miles.
The 2022 McQuaid Invitational featured over 2700 custom-made awards, including ribbons for the top 10, the top 50, Bob Bradley Premier Rotating Trophy for the Top Team, and plaques.

Other Top Cross-Country Events

Of course, these four aren't the only ones. There are quite a few significant XC events. Some others that deserve mentioning are:
  • The Great American Cross-Country Festival is a three-day festival with 18 races, with Nike signing as a major event sponsor.
  • The Roy Griak Cross Country Invitational is another nation's most significant cross-country event. The meet consists of six collegiate and four high school races, often totaling over 4.000 runners.
Many, if not all, of these significant cross-country races, are exciting and thrilling events with tickets available for visitors and those who love running. We hope you've enjoyed learning about these four largest cross-country runs in the U.S.!