2026 World Athletics Cross Country Championships to be Held at Apalachee Regional Park
TALLAHASSEE/LEON COUNTY TO HOST THE 2026 WORLD ATHLETICS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS AT APALACHEE REGIONAL PARK
On July 14th, World Athletics announced that Leon County has been awarded the 2026 World Athletics Cross Country Championships at the award-winning Apalachee Regional Park. As the most prestigious competition in international cross country running, this event marks the first world championship sporting event ever to be held in Tallahassee/Leon County. Held since 1973 in cities across the globe, including Paris, Rome, Denmark and others, the World Athletics Cross Country Championships has only been held in the U.S. twice: East Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1984 and Boston, Massachusetts in 1992.
“It is the highest honor for Leon County to be chosen as the host location for the World Athletics Cross Country Championships,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor. “We are thrilled to see this world event come to Leon County along with the incredible exposure and economic impact it will bring to the community.”
World Athletics is the international governing body for all running, jumping, throwing and walking sports. From humble beginnings, the World Athletics Cross Country Championships has become one of the most exciting footraces in the world, featuring the world’s toughest runners.
“We are beyond excited to have been chosen to host the 2026 World Athletics Cross Country Championships,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “Five years ago, we sought to host the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships as the most prestigious cross country destination in the nation, and this past November, that goal became a reality. Now, we look ahead to hosting the world’s preeminent cross country champions.”
The World Athletics Cross Country Championship is expected to draw more than 550 runners from over 60 countries that will compete in five official World championship races at Apalachee Regional Park. While it will be internationally televised, the event is projected to be attended by 10,000 spectators from around the world, bringing in an estimated economic impact of over $4.3 million. This announcement marks the beginning of increased visibility, additional events and training opportunities that come with the world championship site.
“In 2009, we set out to create an award-winning cross country course that could host local, state and national competitions. Now, 13 years later, we are hosting the world running competition,” said Kerri L. Post, Director of the Leon County Division of Tourism. “Winning the bid to host the most important international running event in the world and being listed among some of the best host cities in the world, speaks volumes to the vision of the Board of County Commissioners and our team who continue to dream big. This event is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that highlights Leon County’s success in hosting running events and commitment to the sport of cross country.”
Watch the official press conference announcement HERE.
“The USATF Cross Country Council is extremely proud and excited that Tallahassee has been awarded the 2026 World Athletics Cross Country Championships. The World Cross Country Championships have always been an important part in the development and continued excellence of both male and female US distance runners. We have hosted numerous national championships in Tallahassee and are confident that they will prove to be an excellent host to this great event in 2026.”
-Thom Hunt, Chair USATF Cross Country Council 1977 World Cross Country Junior (U20) Champion who competed at a total of 4 World Cross Country Championships
“Winning this bid is huge!! The World Championship is the Olympics of Cross Country. They don’t contest the sport at the Games so this is as big as it gets. It’s going to be awesome to show our incredible course to the entire World. Leon County should be incredibly proud to bring this amazing championship to Tallahassee, the State of Florida, and the US.”
– Bob Braman, Head Coach Florida State University Track & Field/Men’s & Women’s Cross Country
“As a past champion, this news is near and dear to my heart. It’s such a privilege for US runners to have this opportunity to compete at a world cross country on their home soil. XC is a special sport – to be involved as an athlete, then as someone who strove to make cross country the best it can be for the athletes, this is a great joy to me”
– Doris Brown Heritage, 5x World Cross Country Champion
“I’m excited. Tallahassee has a lot of personal significance for me since I won NCAAs there last fall. In 2015 when I ran the world cross country as a junior in China, the Chinese fans were lining the course cheering for their athletes and I was thinking to myself “That would be really cool to have them cheering for me.”
-Connor Mantz, Men’s Individual Cross Country National Champion
“I’m thrilled that Tallahassee has been awarded the 2026 World’s Athletics Cross Country Championships. This is a huge testament to the incredible work of the Tourism team and the many other community members who have worked tirelessly over the past 13+ years to develop Apalachee Regional Park into one of the best cross country courses in the world. It’s an exciting time for our destination and we look forward to welcoming the world to Tallahassee in 2026!”
– Michelle Personette, Chairman, Leon County Tourist Development Council