What is Cross Country?
High School Cross Country competition is running a standard 5 kilometer, or 3.1 mile course. The length is standard, but the design is anything but. Courses are usually off-road, sometimes incorporating sections of roads, sidewalks, cart paths, etc. Often times, the courses are set up along winding foot paths through the forest which can be filled with obstacles including mud. Yes, we run in the rain!
Runners compete as a team, but also as individuals. Each runner's finishing place number is added together for a team score. A team needs a minimum of five athletes to score team points, and those five (or the top five on a team) add their places together for a team score. Lower is what you're shooting for. For example, if five members finished 2nd, 5th, 6th, 12th, and 35th, the score would be 60 (2+5+6+12+35). The lowest score possible would occur if one team finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, giving them a score of 15. While each individual runner can compete against the clock, against teammates, or against runners from other teams, he or she is also helping to lower the overall team score.
Cross country is not for the lazy athlete. An individual has to love to run just for the sake of running. A runner has to push through heat, fatigue, cramps, and pure pain. Beating other runners, beating your own personal records, and discovering that your body can do things you never dreamed it could are among the many rewards. The thrill of sprinting through the finish line to the roar of the crowd is impossible to describe. Especially if you have beaten a personal benchmark, a record time, or maybe just sprinted past that other team in the final five seconds.