Sports Breakdown: Cross Country

The OSU Women’s Cross Country team begins their race in the PAC-12 Championships on Nov. 1. 

Cross Country running is a team sport of perseverance and mental toughness where runners are judged on their individual times and teams win with the combined lowest score. 

In the sport of Cross Country, often abbreviated as XC,individuals and teams compete on natural trails, preferably ones with a soft cushion of dirt and grass. These trails can stretch anywhere between two and a half to seven and a half miles long. Typically in college XC meets, men race an average of five miles per race while women race three miles. These trails can be located in a woodland or desert setting and can include hills and flat ground, making each race unique and challenging for the competitors. All competition trails include markings that keep competitors on course.

To begin the race, all runners start at the same time. If runners begin or cross the starting line before the official starts the race, it will be classified as a false start which can result in a disqualification of the runner. 

Strategies for meets depend on each team. Some teams opt for a fast start to clear the competitors while others opt for a steady pace for efficiency. Each strategy depends on what lies ahead for each trail. However, there is no better way to prepare for a meet than with steady training and nutrition. 

It is important for these athletes to remember that running is an exhilarating sport that requires training one’s body. If cross country interests you, start by running a mile and work your way up to longer distances. Don’t forget to take care of your body in between by eating nutritious meals, drinking water, and stretching before and after exercise. 

Notable Athletes: 

Steve Prefontaine: 1972 Olympian, college alma mater Oregon

Lynn Jennings: Three-time consecutive winner of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 1990-1992

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