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Contact: Greg Shine, 360-816-6231
VANCOUVER, WA - This Saturday, November 21, 2009, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will host the 2009 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships.
More than 750 college student-athletes from the United States and Canada will compete on the course that winds through the national park’s historic Parade Ground and Great Meadow. Races are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., with the event start and finish lines located on the west end of the park's historic Parade Ground. Based on past events, several thousand spectators are expected, including those from the local metro area as well as families and supporters from throughout the United States and Canada.
For nearly two years, National Park Service (NPS) staff worked with event organizers to craft an event that met the goals of all participating organizations.
"National-level championship races such as these are not incongruous with our national historic site," explained Tracy Fortmann, the park’s superintendent. "On the contrary, they offer an opportunity for us to reach new audiences and 'provide for the enjoyment of' park resources while controlling and managing their impact – a key aspect of our mission."
"Bringing the NAIA Cross Country Championships to this area is a natural, and we are honored and excited to have been awarded this event for the next two years. This is a special opportunity to add to the outstanding running tradition this region is known for and to showcase the sport of collegiate cross country in a national championship setting," said Dave Haglund, Commissioner, Cascade Collegiate Conference. "We are especially grateful for all the organizational support we have received in this effort to date, particularly from the Oregon Sports Authority, USA Track and Field of Oregon, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Travel Portland and the Southwest Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau."
"The Pacific Northwest has deep roots in the sport of running and I know the championships will garner strong support and interest from the local community. The ability to bring the men's and women's championships to the mecca of a running world will create an exceptional experience for the student-athletes, coaches and fans," said Ruth Stein, NAIA Manager of Championship Sports, Cross Country.
For more than a decade, the NPS has worked with several national organizations and brought a number of national championship events to the local community. In addition to hosting the same NAIA national championship event again in 2010, the NPS has announced that the park has been selected as the site of the 2010 USA Track & Field National Masters Cross Country Championship Races. The event will be held on November 9, 2010, and will bring five hundred runners for the two men's and women's races.
"We recognize that there are many places in the metro area that are well suited to cross country races and other organized athletic events," noted Greg Shine, the park’s chief ranger and historian, "and we're not in the business of running sporting fields or courses. However, we are able to permit a few low-impact national championship events that reflect and support the national significance of the park. These national events -- occurring infrequently enough and in places specifically recommended by our archaeologists to avoid sensitive areas -- can work, as they build on the long tradition, beginning with the Hudson's Bay Company and continuing with the U.S. Army, of Fort Vancouver being a nexus of free, low-intensity, low-impact recreational activities that attract spectators as well as participants."
BACKGROUND: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service and the only national park in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver’s role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, festivals, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.