Settler's Hill 'Wow' Cross Country Course Will Be Event Venue Choice

Settler’s Hill ‘Wow’ Cross Country Course Will Be Event Venue Choice

The cross-country course the Kane County Board approved on Feb. 13 will be NCAA quality and very well could be the gold standard for regional and even national events.

In fact, officials say, Settlers Hill will be the only cross-country-specific course in Illinois.

When completed — potentially as soon as fall 2019 — the course is expected to attract local, regional, state, and national high school and collegiate events.

The largest events are expected to have 1,500 to 2,000 participants and 3,000 to 5,000 spectators.

Unique Design

Part of the appeal, and the cleverness of the design, is that spectators can watch the full race from the top of the hill. Most cross-country races allow viewers to see just a part of the race, typically the beginning and the end, or if the spectators wish to move around, a segment of the race.

Because they’ll see the full event, spectators at Settler’s Hill will experience the drama of the race played out over time, including lead changes, team positioning and the strategy of cross-country racing, which often is unseen and underappreciated.

Settler’s Hill is in the “sweet spot” of cross-county courses in Illinois.

From the point of view of the runners, the venue will be challenging but fair, following all NCAA design guidelines. Runners are equidistant from the start line to the first turn; the last 200 meters are straight and flat, with a spectator area available along the final stretch of the course; and the design does not contain any inclines greater than 8 percent.

Another advantage of the design is the flexibility to hold races of varying length. The approved cross country course is designed to host 2k, 3k, 4k, 5k, 6k, 8k, and 10k events, with longer runs possible depending on the looping structure applied. Electronic time tracking will be available throughout the course as part of the contract.

More good news is that there will be substantial parking availability, far in excess of other cross-country venues.

The trail system will be accessible from the Fox Valley Ice Arena and the Strikers Fox Valley Soccer Club on Kirk Road. Settlers Hill has ample parking available at the Kane County Cougars Stadium and the Strikers Fox Valley Soccer Club.

Additional parking will also be constructed near the current parking facilities as part of the Settlers Hill Cross Country Course construction. The new parking area will be built with porous pavers to minimize stormwater impacts of the project.

The summit of Settlers Hill will have a public viewing area with handicap accessibility. An emergency vehicle access road will also be maintained to the summit.

The course will also be available to sanctioned events such as community fundraisers. When events are not occurring at Settlers Hill, the course will be open to the public for hiking and daily use.

Team Effort

The Settlers Hill Cross Country Course represents substantial commitment from public- and private-sector participants.

Engineering plans were prepared by Weaver Consultants Group. The engineering plans were approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on Nov. 22, 2016.

On Feb. 13, 2018, Curran Contracting Company was selected to construct the course for an amount not to exceed $2,982,808.

Waste Management of Illinois, Inc. has been conducting management and maintenance activities specified in the Post-Closure Care Plan as approved by IEPA since the closure of Settlers Hill Landfill. WMIL will continue these activities during and after construction of the cross country course on the site.

The course will be operated by the Chicago Area Track & Field Organizing Committee, Inc.

CATFOC is a volunteer-based coalition of local high school and collegiate track coaches, running enthusiasts, and community leaders. The organization has been an incorporated not-for-profit in Illinois since 2011. The mission of CATFOC is to “promote track & field, cross country, and road racing in the metropolitan Chicago area.”

CATFOC will manage scheduling, marketing, and events at Settlers Hill, including use of the premises, scheduling of events, concessions operations, coordinating parking events schedules and parking lots with the surrounding facilities, providing public access, maintenance and repair of the trails, and capital improvements.

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County, as the county’s recreational agency, will assist with facilities maintenance related to passive use activities. Kane County will continue to own the Settlers Hill property.

About Settlers Hill

Settlers Hill was previously a landfill that has been closed since 2006. Since then, action has been taken to implement the Closed Landfill Agreement for Settlers Hill and Midway Landfill Sites calling for the 700-acre complex to be further developed for recreational activities.

Settlers Hill is the second-highest elevation in southern Kane County at 880 feet above sea level, only after Johnson’s Mound in Blackberry Township at 896 feet above sea level.

This summit provides a beautiful regional panoramic view, which will now be available to the community thanks to the upcoming Settlers Hill Cross Country Course being created.

What’s Next

With the County Board approval of the contract to construct the cross country course, course construction is expected to begin spring of 2018. Presently, the county is collecting clean fill for the project.

Being on a landfill, the trail system must be built up on rather than cut into the landform. The goal for completion of this project is fall of 2019.

For more information about Settlers Hill, visit the Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources’ webpage.

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