Carmel’s Kole Mathison doesn’t look the slightest bit tired as he closes in on the finish line to take first place in the boys race of the IHSAA cross country state finals at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course on Oct. 29. Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza
Carmel’s Kole Mathison doesn’t look the slightest bit tired as he closes in on the finish line to take first place in the boys race of the IHSAA cross country state finals at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course on Oct. 29. Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza
With final cross country races slated for this weekend, 2022 may be the best year for the sport in terms of weather, said David Patterson, executive director of the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau will have helped stage 16 cross country events this year at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country course east of Terre Haute, so far with no rain. And this weekend’s forecast, while cooler, does not include rain.

“For the first time in 25 years I have not had to pull out my rain jacket,” Patterson said.

“With events this weekend, we will have had 50,0000 people who have gone through the (facility) gates this year,” Patterson said, adding the economic impact “is several millions dollars over the course of the season.”

“We had five (cross country events) that were sell-outs (for hotel rooms) across three counties, so it doesn’t just impact Terre Haute, it is also Greencastle and Plainfield and even have had a few rooms in Effingham, Illinois,” Patterson said.

“We need more hotels here. We have nearly 2,000 hotel rooms, but when you have 5,000 to 6,000 people in town for an event, that math doesn’t work.”

The season’s final races will wrap up this weekend.

Today, the NCAA Division I Great Lakes Regional Championship at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country course, at 599 Tabortown, is expected to attract about 3,000 people. Gates open at 8 a.m. with the women’s race starting at 10 a.m. and the men’s race

“We have 33 flags from every participating college school. Right when you drive up the hill (toward the course), they are all right there, so it really looks cool,” Patterson said. “The winners of that event will make the NCAA Division 1 National Championship.”

Immediately after that championship, the course will be prepared for the Nike Cross Regional Midwest Championship on Sunday.

The Sunday races start at 11 a.m. and go through 3:45 p.m. The Nike meet attracts high schools from five states — Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri — and is expected to attract 5,000 people.

“These are high school all-star teams, not affiliated with any one school,” Patterson said. The teams are a combination of athletes from various schools per region.

While the high school championship is Sunday, two middle school races for the Nike event will be held Saturday.

Patterson noted that an innkeepers tax has generated more than $2.263 million through October this year, up from more than $1.902 million through October in 2021. This year, October innkeeper tax collections are $292,499, up from $179,260 for the same month in 2021.

“I think November will be an even better month. All in all, it has been a good year,” Patterson said for tourism from the cross country course.
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