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St. Kevin CYO, Springfield



FROM WIKIPEDIA, the free encyclopedia: Cross Country running is a sport in which teams of runners compete to complete a course over open or rough terrain faster than other teams. The courses used at these events may include grass, mud, woodlands, and water. It is a popular participatory sport, and usually takes place in temperate regions during the autumn and winter when soft conditions underfoot prevail.


Cross country is an organized sport that originated from The Crick Run held every year since 1837 at Rugby School in England. In the early 19th century cross country was practiced in all public schools. In 1851, undergraduates at Exeter College, Oxford organised a foot grind. This was an analogy with steeple chasing on horse where a race would be held towards the nearest church steeple, forcing riders to clear rural obstacles such as hedges, fences, and ditches. A two-mile cross country steeplechase formed part of the Oxford University sports (in which many of the modern athletics events were founded) in 1860, but replaced in 1865 by an event over barriers on a flat fields, which became the modern steeplechase in athletics.

In 1878, the sport was introduced into the United States by William C. Vosburgh. At first, the sport served mainly as training for summer track and field athletics. Nine years later, cross country running became a formal sport in the United States.

Courses and distances

Each cross-country running course is different in composition. Distances are generally standardized, however there will be little in common between any two courses other than their distance. As such, accurate comparisons cannot be made between performances on different courses or even on the same course on different years as the weather and underfoot conditions can be significantly different. For this reason, records of the fastest times in international competition are not kept.

Coaching and tactics

Coaches move throughout the course to dictate strategy and motivate their teams. While the race is usually won by an outstanding individual, it is often the battles between the secondary teammates that determine which team wins.

As in all distance races, runners often try to run even splits (or possibly negative splits, getting faster and faster as the race goes on) for the most efficient use of their energy, although other tactics are common. They may also run in packs to lessen the mental strain put on each individual runner.


Cross-country running involves very little specialized equipment. Unless it is particularly cold, most races are run in shorts and vests or singlets, usually in club or school colors. Footwear is typically a pair of spikes, sometimes called cleats, which are light running shoes with a fairly rigid rubber sole that include metal spikes to maintain grip. Regulation spikes for cross country courses range from .25-.5 inches. Alternatively studded shoes may be worn, and in some leagues, spikes are not allowed, and all runners must wear spikeless "flats"[1]. On very cold days, many runners will choose to wear long sleeved and long legged garments under their vests and even hats and gloves.

Notable athletes

Several athletes have won three or more individual titles at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships: Carlos Lopes, the first man to win three times; John Ngugi, the first man to win five times; Paul Tergat, the first man to win five times in a row; Kenenisa Bekele, the only man to win the short and long courses each five times in five years. In recent years, international cross-country has been dominated by eastern Africans, particularly those representing Kenya and Ethiopia.

Grete Waitz, the first woman to win five times; Lynn Jennings, who won three times; Derartu Tulu, who won three times; Gete Wami and Tirunesh Dibaba, both of whom won twice at the long course and once at the short; and Edith Masai, who won the short race three times.

Outstanding American cross-country runners include Don Lash, who won seven consecutive national championships from 1934 to 1940 and Pat Porter, who won eight titles from 1982 to 1989. Only two American athletes have won the IAAF World Cross Country Championships; Craig Virgin, who won in 1980 and again in 1981 and Lynn Jennings from 1990-1992.

Common championship distances are:

Age Group Distance in Miles Distance in Kilometers 6 & Under .62 1km 7 & 8 1.24 2km 9 thru 12 1.86 3km 13 & 14 2.48 4km 15 thru 18 3.11 5km


CYO Athletic Ministry Handbook 2007-2008.pdf 0 bytes - (Uploaded 08/17/2008)

Last Updated on 08/17/2008 by