NCAA Cross Country Regional Highlights NWA's Running Excellence

Northwest Arkansas has a history of being a great place for runners, and that excellence is on the rise.

The strong history is one of the primary reasons that the University of Arkansas will play host to the NCAA Division I South Central Region Championships for men’s and women’s cross country, taking place Friday at Agri Park in Fayetteville.

It should be a great day with the women’s 6,000-meter race starting at noon and the men’s 10,000 meter at 1 p.m.

There’s no cost for fans to attend, and University of Arkansas officials are hoping for strong fan support. The fact that the Arkansas teams are both ranked No. 1 in the region should increase fans’ interest and the fans can help show the NCAA why Northwest Arkansas is a great place to host future NCAA championships.

The top two teams in the both the men’s and women’s divisions will advance to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Arkansas men’s and women’s teams won the regional championships last year at Waco, Texas.

About 60 schools and more than 200 runners are expected to participate in this year’s races. Last year’s field included runners from SMU, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Rice, Houston and LSU.

The Nov. 14 cross country championships are the latest in the region’s long history of excellent running events that showcase the natural beauty of Northwest Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas will be home to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 13-15 next year at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.

Other top running events include the Fayetteville Half Marathon (this past weekend), the Run Bentonville Half Marathon (March 28, 2015) and the Hogeye Marathon (March 29, 2015).

There are dozens of 5K and 10K runs in Northwest Arkansas throughout the year, and many of them provide support to the region’s nonprofit organizations.

Those events are being enhanced by increasingly better places for running. One of the region’s best running facilities is the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Greenway, a 36-mile path that’s fast approaching completion. Most of those 36 miles are complete with only small sections in Lowell and Springdale still under construction.

Additionally, there are excellent soft surface trails for runners, including the amazing Mount Kessler area in Fayetteville and Hobbs State Park Conservation Area near Rogers.

Pictured at the top: University of Arkansas All-American runner Dominique Scott leads her team into Friday's South Central Region Championships at Agri Park in Fayetteville.