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Leon County will host the World Cross Country Championships in 2026

rear view boys running in a cross country race on grass
David Wood/coachwood
The world championship event is expected to draw more than 550 runners from over 60 countries to Apalachee Regional Park.

World Athletics has announced that Leon County won the bid to host the 2026 World Athletics Cross Country Championships at Apalachee Regional Park.

County leaders say it's considered the most prestigious competition in international cross country running, and it marks the first world championship sporting event ever to be held in Tallahassee/Leon County.

This event has been held since 1973 in cities like Paris, Rome, and Denmark. It’s only been held in the U.S. twice: East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1984 and Boston, Massachusetts in 1992.


Here’s more from the Leon County government press release:

“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 broadcast, 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 will be 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.”

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. Follow Gina: @hearyourthought on Twitter. Click below for Gina's full bio.