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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s cross country and distance program shifted its training emphasis in the fall of 2013, utilizing many of the great soft-surface areas that surround the Columbia campus.

Speed work occurs at the closest training facility to the Gamecocks’ Athletic Village, Owens Field Park. Located next to the downtown airport, Owens Field Park has a 3/4-mile gravel track that surrounds the large green expanse as well as several shaded trails. This flat, soft surface serves well for the long grass interval sessions the team utilizes during its training.

On the other side of campus is the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park, which makes up the northern section of the greater Three Rivers Greenway. This popular downtown area provides a path that runs along the canal to its start, an old dam with a lock system. This trail runs under major roadways and provides a quiet, traffic-free place in the midst of the city for the team to concentrate during training times.

For the longer runs during practice, assistant track coach in charge of cross country and distance Andrew Allden and the team head to Sesquicentennial State Park in the northeastern section of Columbia for training. One of 12 state parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this 1,400-acre plot of land has 12 miles of dirt running trails. Many high school cross country meets also are held on the grounds.

All of those facilities get the Gamecocks ready for their competitions, which, when at home, are held at historic Hilton Field on Fort Jackson, a US Army facility. The all-grass, spectator-friendly course hosted the 2010 SEC Cross Country Championships and served as the South Carolina State High School Championship course for many years.