Cross country is the epitome of fall endurance running.
Typically run on nature trails of varying terrains, cross country races promote setting long-term goals and can help students increase endurance and mental toughness. A cross country race is usually 5K (3.1 miles) for high school students and 3K (1.86 miles) for middle school students. The cross country season typically starts in September and ends in November. During a race, individuals and/or teams compete against one another to earn the fewest points.
We suggest planning a cross country race several weeks in advance to ensure a smooth event. Use the following resources to prepare:
Pick an outdoor location that is safe and accessible. Cross country courses typically include hills and flat areas through fields and wooded trails. You can use a measuring wheel to establish a course. If you don't already have a course in mind, contact your local parks department to identify potential parks or venues for your event and to get information on any permits you may need to secure.
If you will have a lot of participants and/or a narrow course, split the participants into groups, known as heats, and start heats one at a time.
There are many ways to time a cross country race. If you are interested in learning about more advanced options that may require bibs, officials, or advanced timing technology, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cross country races are scored individually and/or by team. A runner receives points based on the place in which they finish. The goal is to earn as few points as possible. If your cross country event does not include teams, each individual’s score is the place in which they finished. Note that boys and girls races are scored separately, whether or not they run together. Keep reading for tips on how to score a standard cross country race.
Awards, however simple, are a great way to boost a participant's sense of achievement. You can award ribbons, patches, medals, certificates, or other small prizes to all finishers, top finishers, and/or top teams.
Make water available to runners at the finish. We suggest 24 ounces (3 cups) of water for each participant. You can buy water in gallon jugs and use small cups. Assign one or two adults to the water table at the finish line. Water fountains work, too, if you have ample access.
Always finish by congratulating the runners and thanking any helpers and spectators.
Consider starting the event with a group warm-up where you gather all participants together and have them follow along as an adult leads a simple warm-up routine comprised of dynamic stretches and/or a brief jog. You can also organize a group cool-down.
In competitive settings, cross country runners often wear spikes. Spikes are shoes with metal spikes that improve a runner's traction. For a race with many beginners, or when a significant portion of the race will be run on hard surfaces (like concrete or asphalt), you may consider disallowing spikes. Check for any rules against spikes at the location of your race.