IRWIN BELK COMPLEX FOR TRACK & FIELD
Furman University, which over the years has claimed seven Southern Conference titles in track and field and six 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 improved track complex, Furman now 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 eight Olympics and numerous World Track & Field Championships.
In April 2007, Furman announced the planned construction of a new $2.5 million track house and a new track complex.
The first phase of the project will be a two-story, 6,000-square-foot track house that will be situated atop the hill overlooking the track, off Cherrydale Lane. It will include locker rooms for the men’s and women’s teams, coaches’ offices, a reception area and a warm-up area for athletes.
Attached to the track house will be a new 2,000-square-foot laboratory for the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training faculty.
The new track house also includes subsequent plans to renovate the existing Irwin Belk Complex For Track & Field, install lights, construct bleacher seating for 1,500, erect a press box, and add parking.
The facility construction and improvements announcement in 2007 came in conjunction with the Asics Blue Shoes Mile banquet held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville. Over 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 eventful weekend that also included 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.