Van Cortlandt Park NY - For those few who may have missed it. or for those many athletes who have already visited, VCXC is a spot made for runners, by runners. Nike, in an effort to highlight as well as pay tribute to one of New York’s most prestigious courses, set up shop directly across the street from the famous VCP tortoise and the hare in early September. This temporary facility (the site will close up shop for the season in early December, with plans already to return for next year) is hosting a viewing party for the Nike Cross Nationals Championship, streamed live from Portland, Oregon. Doors open at 11am on Saturday, December 3rd, and promise to be the best view of the race on the East Coast. Admission is free, refreshments will be served, and a great experience will be had by all.
About the Facility
The location can be most readily spotted by the numerous racing bibs hanging from the exterior. Runners are always encouraged to add theirs to the pack, but the real experience is inside. Lining the halls of the entrance is a detailed mural composed of race photos of the 2010 Nike Cross Nationals competition. During the Manhattan Invitational this year, runners could be seen picking out familiar faces, posing next to the life-size pictures of themselves on the wall.
Once crossing through the doors, high school cross country runners can get lost in a mix of history and the contemporary. Paying tribute to the land where Pre once ran, the Nike runners’ motto is emblazoned on the wall next to large pictures of the famous landmarks from the course. But the facility does not only dwell on the past, as it brings numerous 21st century features to the mix.
The first modern feature runners can find is a large interactive smartboard, which houses a custom map of the Van Cortlandt 4k course. Artistically designed specifically for the venue, athletes can interact with the course by touching specific sections of the course to better understand the history behind it. They can also connect to a specific selection through their facebook accounts, leaving comments on the wall for anyone to see. Finally, there are plenty of course pictures, taken by the staff at local meets at the venue, to highlight the athletes that use Van Cortlandt Park on weekly basis.
Directly across from the screen is VCXC’s signature simulated course experience. Reminiscent of a Dance-Dance-Revolution experience, players first step inside a green room to take pictures for their virtually simulated avatars. Once completed, they can head over to the running station, and put their newly created character to the test on a simulated version of the Van Cortlandt course. All of this works seamlessly, and is sure to attract a crowd any time there is a big race. Similar to the virtual map, athletes can then upload videos of their virtual race to their facebook pages, as well play again at home to try and beat their in-store score.
Continuing on, VCXC possesses its own custom T-Shirt printing facility in the back half of the store. There, you can pick from 17 different designs unique to the venue, which highlight the rich backstory of the venue, as well as fan-favorites such as Lloyd’s carrot cake, the stores bestselling shirt. With every purchase of a shirt, customers receive one free VCXC token, which can be used at the lace/spike gumball machine. Inside, runners will receive brightly colored laces or spikes which they can affix to their favorite Nike shoes.
Center stage at the facility is an indoor amphitheater, complete with an 18 foot screen, where the race will be broadcast. This area is the hub of local teams and coaches, available free upon reservation for any team that wants to utilize the space for meetings, end of season parties, or any other running needs.
Behind the large screen is Nike’s clothing brand store. There you can find Nike running gear ranging from shoes to pullovers to racing attire. You can also find Nike’s newest GPS watch, the Nike+ GPS Sport Watch. Most impressively, the running store features a “Wall of Necessity,” highlighting everything a high school runner would ever need to succeed in a race.
We hope you all enjoy the experience as much as I did. It is great to see a store dedicated solely to high school cross country. The knowledgeable staff of four are all tenured runners, who live on-site, always ready to help. And be sure to ring the victory bell on your way out, because you know your day has been a success if you’ve spent it at VCXC.