Kane County officials said this week that the Northwestern Medicine Cross Country Course at Settlers Hill is about 95% complete, and races are expected to start in August 2020.
The completion of the $4 million course at the former Settler’s Hill Landfill also completes a promise made by county and municipal officials decades ago — that the landfill would be put to spectacular public use.
On a recent tour of the site — attended by Kane County staff and elected officials, Forest Preserve District staff, engineers and representatives of the Curran Contracting team that is putting the finishing touches on the course construction, and officials of the Chicago Area Track & Field Organizing Committee that will run the cross-country facility — it was easy to see why the course completion is generating so much excitement.
The views, quite frankly, are breathtaking.
Al Edgecombe, secretary for the Chicago Area Track & Field Organizing Committee, said the first race likely would be held in August and the group could soon be hosting national events at the course in Geneva.
“It’s unbelievable,” Edgecomb told the Daily Herald. “When runners see the view from here, they are going to be enamored. This was my dream back in 2011.”
Kane County Board member John Martin, who was a driving force in bringing the project to fruition, said the 360-degree viewing makes the course very nearly unique.
“I think the only secret to the success of this course is to get people up here for the first time,” he said.
The photo gallery embedded in this article gives you some idea of the vistas but you really do have to see for yourself. You’ll have that chance when the site is open to the public, sometime next spring.
Jessica Mino, Kane County resource management coordinator, said that, once open, the public will be able to use the facility as a day-use hiking trail. She said many residents will enjoy the site as they would any park or forest preserve, to walk the dog or jog on the trails or take a picnic lunch and enjoy a view that, on a clear day, reaches as far as the Chicago skyline.
The course is made financially viable in part through the purchase of naming rights by Northwestern Medicine, which also holds naming rights to the adjacent Northwestern Medicine Field, home of the Kane County Cougars minor league baseball franchise.
Along with a few, relatively minor construction items, the primary task for eager officials is literally to watch the grass grow.
The course itself will be managed by the Chicago Area Track & Field Organizing Committee through contract with the Forest Preserve.
Mino said the Northwestern Medicine Cross Country Course is special for a number of reasons other than the view.
For cross-country spectators, it’s a dream come true. The course design will allow fans to view the race from the top of the hill, from start to finish, adding drama to a contest that’s sometimes difficult to see except at the beginning and end.
Another clever design feature is that the course can accommodate a variety of distances — 2k, 3k, 4k, 3-mile, 5k, 6k, 8k, and 10k events, with longer runs possible depending on the looping structure applied.
Electronic time tracking will be available at the site.
While other cross country sites struggle with parking and capacity constraints, Mino said, Northwestern Medicine CCC has ample parking available at the Kane County Cougars stadium, Strikers (indoor soccer) facility and the Fox Valley Ice Arena.
Additional parking was constructed with porous pavers to minimize the stormwater impacts of the project.
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