Carol Cook was an important cog in ISU’s dominant women’s track & field and cross country teams in the 1970s. Despite battling injuries and running in the shadow of ISU Hall of Famer and teammate Peg Neppel throughout her career, Cook came to be known as one of the best long distance runners in the world.
After transferring to Iowa State from Southwest Missouri State, Cook elevated her performances to a new level under the direction of Cyclone head coach Chris Murray. In 1976, Cook won the Big Eight Conference title in cross country and finished second at the AIAW national championship, helping the Cyclones win both the conference and national team titles.
The St. Louis, Mo., native also won outdoor Big Eight titles in the 5,000 meters and 2-mile run in 1977 and was the 1977 Big Eight indoor 2-mile champion. She still holds ISU’s school record in the 5,000 meters with a time of 16:14.10. After graduating from ISU in 1977, Cook performed successfully at the international level, earning a spot on the 1977 U.S. National Track & Field team. At one time, Cook held the American and world record in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. In 1981 at the age of 27, Cook placed 12th at the New York City Marathon, finishing in a time of 2:44:15.