The Detweiller Report: A Look Back In Course Measurement

History of the Detweiller Park Loops



The IHSA State Final Cross-Country meet has been held at Detweiller Park since 1970. In 1971, the distance of the race was advertised as 3 miles for the first time. The 1971 course was essentially unchanged until 2003, when the finish area was relocated and reconfigured in order to accommodate computer chip scoring. The start was also moved north to provide room for activities related to meet administration, timing, and scoring, and changes were made elsewhere on the course to make up the lost distance. The course was originally configured as follows:



Figure 5: Original Map of Boys Course


In 1979, a girls' state final meet was held for the first time. It started and finished at the same location as the boys' race, and generally used the same terrain, but omitted one loop used on the boys' course. The distance of this course, according to the IHSA, was 2.1 miles.


Figure 6: Original Map of Girls 2.1 Mile Course


In 1998, the length of the girls' State Final race was changed, according to the IHSA, to 2.5 miles. The long loop that includes the "triangle" north of the creek was replaced with two laps of the loop around the south meadow. Here is the configuration of that course.


Figure 7: Original Map of Girls 2.5 Mile Course


In 2002, the length of the girls' State Final race was increased to 3 miles, and the girls raced over the same course as the boys. The boys and girls have raced over the same course each year since 2002.


The 1971-2002 Detweiller Park courses were essentially comprised of three loops. All of the loops share the section of the course between the middle of the first turn and approximately the two mile mark along the west side of the course, so they can be assembled and disassembled in a number of ways. The loops are as follows:

The start to finish loop (Loop F). This segment is not really a loop, as it doesn't close on itself, but just to be consistent we'll call it one. Predictably, it goes from the starting line around the first turn and back to the finish line. Along the west side of the course it follows the same line as the other two loops until it veers toward the finish chute just before the finish.

The configuration of this segment in the current course is essentially unchanged from the 1971-2002 course, with the important exceptions of the start and finish, both of which have been moved north. The cone or flag that directed the runners into the open field at the evergreen tree just south of the half mile mark is also no longer used. The configuration of the first turn at the north end of the segment is essentially the same as it was from 1971 to 2002.

Figure 8: Loop F


The short loop (Loop S). This loop essentially follows the perimeters of the south meadow, except at the northeast corner, where it cuts across the meadow to rejoin the perimeter at the first turn. The turns are largely defined by large trees except for the first turn at the northwest corner of the loop where permanent steel posts have replaced the trees that were once there. It should be noted that this loop is still used, in pretty much its original form, in the current State Final course. The only material difference is that the cone that was once placed even with the large evergreen tree just south of the current half-mile mark was removed in 2003, and the runners are no longer channeled as far out into the "infield" as they once were.



Figure 9: Loop S

The long loop (Loop L). This loop also follows the perimeter of the south meadow. At the northeast corner, however, instead of heading for the first turn, it heads for a bridge over the creek that defines the north end of the south meadow. It then runs another loop, commonly called the "triangle", in the meadow north of the creek, returning to the bridge, and heading for and rejoining the short loop at the first turn.

It is this loop that appears to have been changed the most from the 1971-2002 course to the current course. The north loop, or "triangle" has been reconfigured so that it is now defined by a line of trees along the road along the west perimeter of the meadow, almost to the creek, where it turns left and heads back for the pass-through. Additionally, at the entrance to the north loop, the course now follows the northeast perimeter of the south meadow while from 1971 through 2002 the runners were allowed to head straight for the pass-through when they turned left into the meadow. Finally, in 2005, a second pass-through was added west of the original one. Runners now enter the north loop through the east pass-through, and exit it through the west pass-through.


Figure 10: Loop L


How long would each of these loops have to have been?

There were three courses, each with a different configuration of the three loops.

· The boys' course is F + S + L = 3.0 miles

· The 1979-1997 girls course was F + L = 2.1 miles

· The 1998-2001 girls' course was F + S + S = 2.5 miles


That sets up a system with three equations and three unknowns, which results in the following solution:

· Loop F (start to finish) would have to have been 0.7 miles.

· Loop S (short loop) would have to have been 0.9 miles.

· Loop L (long loop with "triangle") would have to have been 1.4 miles.


How was the course changed in 2003?

In 2003, the course (now one course since the boys and girls courses were now the same) was changed in a number of ways, with the stated purpose being to create more administrative area behind the start/finish area to facilitate the use of computer chip scoring.


The changes were as follows:

· The start and finish were moved north.

· The flag or cone about 10 meters east of the large evergreen tree just south of the current half mile mark which sent runners into the "infield" was removed, and the runners now needed only to go to the left of the evergreen tree. It should be noted that the runners pass by this point on each of the three loops. It is not certain exactly when this was changed. It was definitely part of the course in 2002 and was not a part of the course in 2007.

· Just past the mile mark, the route between the last tree on the east side of the course and the pass through into the north loop was altered. Previously, the runners headed directly to the pass-through. Now they are forced to hug the northeast perimeter of the south meadow before they enter the north loop.

· In the north loop, the runners used to turn hard left at a tree across from the entrance to the parking lot by the concession/restroom building across the drive, and headed directly from there, across the fields, back to the original pass-through back into the south meadow. The runners now follow the perimeter of the north meadow, outside the tree line next to the drive, until they reach a tree almost to the creek, and then turn left and head back to the pass-through.

Here is the 2003 course map, downloaded from the IHSA website:

Figure 11: 2003 Boys and Girls Course Map


The course was changed again before the 2005 season. A second pass-through, west of the original one, was added between the north and south loop. The runners now crossed the creek to enter the north loop on the original, or east pass-through, and crossed back through the new, or west pass-through.

Here is a map of that course, downloaded from the IHSA website:

Figure 12: 2005 Boys Course Map

We do not know if the course was adjusted elsewhere in 2005 to compensate for the distance lost when the second pass-through was added.


This course was also used for the 2006 and 2007 State Final Meets.

What methods were used to determine the route of the 1971-2002 course?


· The START was established by viewing an aerial photograph of Detweiller Park taken in early 2002. It clearly shows a line of wear in approximately the area the start used to be. The approximate position of the line on the ground was determined by scaling distances on the aerial photograph and comparing them to actual distances on the ground.


· The FINISH was also determined by the aerial photograph, but also from repeated viewing of video of state meets from 1985 through 2002. The time the runners took from a landmark tree to the neck of the finish chute was consistent with a distance from that tree, and the videos occasionally show the utility pole that stands in the finish area.


· The PATH THROUGH THE NORTH LOOP was also established by viewing the aerial photograph, and the path was confirmed by a number of coaches familiar with the course in that area.


· The location of the CONE OR FLAG JUST PAST THE HALF MILE MARK was estimated to be approximately 10 meters east of the east edge of the tree based on viewing videotape of various races from 1985 through 2002.


For the purpose of this measurement, the locations of the 1971-2002 start and finish were estimated as follows:

· The center of the starting line for the old course was set at 57' north of the north curb of the parking area south of the starting area.

· The finish line was set at 27.6' south of the utility pole in the vicinity of the new finish area.