Jim Thorpe - Modern Pentathlon event at St. Gregory University in Shawnee, OK

Jim Thorpe was the first native America to win an Olympic Gold medal. He grew up in between Tulsa and Oklahoma City in the Sac and Fox Nation, and became an Olympic athlete in the pentathlon and decathlon. In 1950, an Associated Press poll of almost 400 sportswriters and broadcasters voted Thorpe the "greatest athlete" of the first half of the 20th century. He was born near the town of Prague, Oklahoma.

It is 10 miles (16 km) from Prague, OK to the nearest university, St. Gregory's University, in Shawnee, Oklahoma. St. Gregory’s was started by Catholic monks to assist the Native Americans who were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma. To recognize Jim Thorpe and St. Gregory’s University's contribution to Native America and Olympics sports, the Tulsa games committee proposed that the Modern Pentathlon event of Cross country running be hosted at the St. Gregory’s campus, 90 miles (140 km) from Tulsa.

During the Atlanta Olympics, the cross country section of the pentathlon was held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia, a distance from downtown Atlanta of 30 miles.