Irwin Belk Complex For Track & Field/Furman Cross Country Course
Furman University, which over the years has claimed seven Southern Conference titles in track and field and 13 league cross country championships, dedicated the Irwin Belk Complex for Track and Field in 1997.
The facility is named in honor of its principal benefactor, Irwin Belk, the son of William Henry Belk and the founder of the Belk merchandising empire. Irwin Belk, a longtime leader in business, the arts, politics, and education in North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he set a number of records in track. As a philanthropist, Belk has given the lead gift for track and field complexes at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and now Furman, and is dedicated to the advancement of the sport.
In addition to the track complex, Furman boasts the Kelsey-West track, a red MONDO surface with eight 42-inch lanes. The high jump, long jump, triple jump, and pole vault runways are joined by a cream colored apron. MONDO is the premier name in track surfaces and has been used in each of the last eleven Olympics and numerous World Track & Field Championships.
In 2007, 400 alumni and others, including 1972 U.S. Olympic gold medalist in the 800 meters, Dave Wottle, and former Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, were on hand for the second annual Asics Blue Shoes Mile run. Renowned distance runner Alan Webb capped the event, attended by over 3,000 fans, by recording the first-ever sub-4-minute mile on a South Carolina track with a time of 3:57.83. A record six athletes posted a sub-4:00 time in the Blue Shoes Elite Mile in 2014.
Furman holds two cross country meets each fall, the Gene Mullin Cross Country Invitational, which is named for the Paladins’ former long-time head coach, and the Furman University Cross Country Classic, which began in 2013. Both races are run on the Furman University Golf Course and feature a spectator friendly 2k-looped course. The course at the Furman University Cross Country Classic is European style with logs and hay bales. The Furman course was the site of the 1997 and 2001 NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships.