Cross country running

Cross country running is a sport in which teams and individuals run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain such as dirt or grass. Sometimes the runners are referred to as harriers (dogs).[1] The course, typically 4–12 kilometres (2.5–7.5 mi) long, may include surfaces of grass, and earth, pass through woodlands and open country, and include hills, flat ground and sometimes gravel road. It is both an individual and a team sport; runners are judged on individual times and teams by a points-scoring method. Both men and women of all ages compete in cross country, which usually takes place during autumn and winter, and can include weather conditions of rain, sleet, snow or hail, and a wide range of temperatures.

Cross country running is one of the disciplines under the umbrella sport of athletics, and is a natural terrain version of long-distance track and road running. Although open-air running competitions are pre-historic, the rules and traditions of cross country racing emerged in Britain. The English championship became the first national competition in 1876 and the International Cross Country Championships was held for the first time in 1903. Since 1973 the foremost elite competition has been the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.[2]

Cross country running
A men's cross country competition with a large leading pack in Minnesota, United States
Highest governing bodyIAAF
World Championships1973–

Race course

Cross country courses are laid out on an open or woodland area. The IAAF recommends that courses be grass-covered, and have rolling terrain with frequent but smooth turns. Courses consist of one or more loops, with a long straight at the start and another leading to the finish line.

Course design

Terrain can vary from open fields to forest hills and even across rivers. It also includes running down and up hills. Because of variations in conditions, international standardization of cross country courses is impossible, and not necessarily desirable. Part of cross country running's appeal is the distinct characteristics of each venue's terrain and weather, as in other outdoor sports like motor racing, cycling and golf.

According to the IAAF, an ideal cross country course has a loop of 1,750 to 2,000 metres (1,910 to 2,190 yd) laid out on an open or wooded land. It should be covered by grass, as much as possible, and include rolling hills "with smooth curves and short straights". While it is perfectly acceptable for local conditions to make dirt or snow the primary surface, courses should minimize running on roads or other macadamized paths. Parks and golf courses often provide suitable locations.

While a course may include natural or artificial obstacles, cross country courses support continuous running, and do not require climbing over high barriers, through deep ditches, or fighting through the underbrush, as do military-style assault courses.[3]

A course at least 5 metres (5.5 yd) full allows competitors to pass others during the race. Clear markings keep competitors from making wrong turns, and spectators from interfering with the competition. Markings may include tape or ribbon on both sides of the course, chalk or paint on the ground, or cones. Some classes use colored flags to indicate directions: red flags for left turns, yellow flags for right turns, and blue flags to continue straight or stay within ten feet of the flag. Courses also commonly include distance markings, usually at each kilometer or each mile.[4]

The course should have 400 to 1,200 m (440 to 1,310 yd) of level terrain before the first turn, to reduce contact and congestion at the start. However, many courses at smaller competitions have their first turn after a much shorter distance.[5]


Courses for international competitions consist of a loop between 1750 and 2000 meters. Athletes complete three to six loops, depending on the race. Senior men compete on a 12-kilometre course. Senior women and junior men compete on an 8-kilometre course. Junior women compete on a 6-kilometre course.[3]

In the United States, college men typically compete on 8 km (5.0 mi) or 10 km (6.2 mi) courses, while college women race for 5 km (3.1 mi) or 6 km (3.7 mi).[5] High school courses are generally 5 km (3.1 mi). Middle school courses are usually 1.5 mi (2.4 km) or 2 mi (3.2 km) long.


The start of a typical cross country race, as an official fires a gun to signal the start

All runners start at the same time, from a starting arc (or line) marked with lines or boxes for each team or individual. An official, 50 meters or more in front of the starting line, fires a pistol to indicate the start. If runners collide and fall within the first 100 meters, officials can call the runners back and restart the race, however this is done only once. Crossing the line or starting before the starting pistol is fired is considered a false start and most often results in disqualification of the runner.


The course ends at a finish line located at the beginning of a funnel or chute (a long walkway marked with flags) that keeps athletes single-file in order of finish and facilitates accurate scoring.

Depending on the timing and scoring system, finish officials may collect a small slip from each runner's bib, to keep track of finishing positions. An alternative method (standard in the UK) is to have four officials in two pairs. In the first pair, one official reads out numbers of finishers and the other records them. In the second pair, one official reads out times for the other to record. At the end of the race, the two lists are joined along with information from the entry information. The primary disadvantage of this system is that distractions can easily upset the results, particularly when scores of runners finish close together.

Chip timing has grown in popularity to increase accuracy and decrease the number of officials required at the finish line. Each runner attaches a transponder with RFID to his or her shoe. When the runner crosses the finish line, an electronic pad records the chip number and matches the runner to a database. Chip timing allows officials to use checkpoint mats throughout the race to calculate split times, and to ensure runners cover the entire course. This is by far the most efficient method, although it is also the most expensive. The drawback to chip timing is its inability to separate a close finish properly. Chips times the feet, when the rule books say it is the torso that counts. It is technically possible for an athlete to fall across the finish line, legally crossing the finish line, but with their feet too far away from the sensor to have their finish recorded.

Contemporary races have now started to use fully automatic timing systems for photo finish accuracy to their results. This has dramatically improved the timing mechanisms of Cross Country over the last few years.


Scores are determined by summing the top four or five individual finishing places on each team. In international competition, a team typically consists of six runners, with the top four scoring. In the United States, the most common scoring system is seven runners, with the top five scoring. Points are awarded to the individual runners of eligible teams, equal to the position in which they cross the finish line (first place gets 1 point, second place gets 2 points, etc.). The points for these runners are summed, and the lowest score wins. Individual athletes, and athletes from incomplete teams (teams consisting of less than 5 athletes or teams) and individuals who have been disqualified are excluded from scoring. Ties are usually broken by the position of each team's sixth runner.

The lowest possible score in a five-to-score match is 15 (1+2+3+4+5), achieved by a team's runners finishing in each of the top five positions. If there is a single opposing team then they would have a score of 40 (6+7+8+9+10), which can be considered a "sweep" for the winning team. In some competitions a team's sixth and seventh runner are scored in the overall field and are known as "pushers" or "displacers" as their place can count ahead of other runners, giving other teams more points. In the above match, if there are two non-scoring runners and they came 6th and 7th overall, the opponent's score would be 50 (8+9+10+11+12). Accordingly, the official score of a forfeited dual meet is 15–50.


Because of differences between courses in running surface, frequency and tightness of turns, and amount of up and downhill, cross country strategy does not necessarily simplify to running a steady pace from start to finish. Coaches and cross country runners debate the relative merits of fast starts to get clear of the field, versus steady pacing to maximize physiological efficiency. Some teams emphasize running in a group in order to provide encouragement to others on the team, while others hold that every individual should run his or her own race. In addition, whether you run ahead 'of the pack' or behind it and pull ahead in the end is important, but can vary according to the runner's individual skill, endurance, and the length of the race. Runners should also account for food intake prior to the race. Most important, however, is the training beforehand.[6][7][8]


Cross country running involves very little specialized equipment. Most races are run in shorts and vests or singlets, usually in club or school colours. In particularly cold conditions, long-sleeved shirts and tights can be worn to retain warmth without losing mobility. The most common footwear are cross country spikes, lightweight racing shoes with a rubber sole and five or more metal spikes screwed into the forefoot part of the sole. Spike length depends on race conditions, with a muddy course appropriate for spikes as long as 25 millimetres (0.98 in). If a course has a harder surface, spikes as short as 6 millimetres (0.24 in) may be most effective. While spikes are suitable for grassy, muddy, or other slippery conditions, runners may choose to wear racing flats, rubber-soled racing shoes without spikes, if the course includes significant portions of paved surfaces or dirt road.[9]


Formal cross country competition traces its history to the 19th century and an English game called "hare and hounds" or "the paper chase". English schools started competing in cross country races in 1837, and established a national championship on December 7, 1867. It was held on Wimbledon Common in south-west London. It was the first cross country race that was considered "open", or could be run by anyone. Its original purpose was to imitate steeplechase for off-season training, and was considered a bit of a joke. The race was about 3.5 miles long, and went through very boggy and hilly terrain. The course was not well marked, and many competitors got lost. Matters were not helped by the fact that the race was run in the dark, as it began at 5 pm.[10]

Olympic Games

Ind cross country 1924 Summer Olympics
Individual cross country race at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. The left trio is Edvin Wide, Ville Ritola and Paavo Nurmi. Due to the hot weather (over 40 °C (104 °F)) only 15 out of 38 competitors (elite long-distance runners) could finish the race.

Cross country was contested as a team and individual event at the 1912, 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics. Sweden took gold in 1912, and Finland, led by Paavo Nurmi, captured the gold in 1920 and 1924. During the 1924 race in the Paris heat wave, only 15 of the 38 competitors reached the finish.[11] Eight of those were taken away on stretchers.[11] One athlete began to run in tight circles after reaching the stadium and later knocked himself unconscious,[12] while another fainted 50 meters from the finish.[13] José Andía and Edvin Wide were reported dead,[14] and medics spent hours trying to find all the competitors who had blacked out along the course.[13] Although the reports of deaths were unfounded, spectators were shocked by the attrition rate and Olympic officials decided to ban cross country running from future Games.[14] Since 1928, cross country has been contested only as the fifth discipline of the modern pentathlon, and until 2016 it was the only discipline where the Olympic competition was only part of the modern pentathlon.[15] The sport will have a separate medal event at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

World championships

Europeans dominated early International Cross Country Championships, first held at the Hamilton Park Racecourse in Scotland on 28 March 1903. England won the first 14 titles, and 43 of 59 until the IAAF took over the competition in 1973. France was the next most successful country in the early years, winning 12 championships between 1922 and 1956. Belgium is the only other country to win at the International Cross Country Championship, capturing titles in 1948, 1957, 1961 and 1963. The English also dominated the individual competition, with an Englishman winning the individual title 35 times, including three wins by Jack Holden (1933–1935).

The first international cross country championship for women was held in 1931, and thirteen more times through 1972. England won 12 of these early championships, losing only in 1968 and 1969 (to the United States). American Doris Brown won five consecutive individual titles between 1967 and 1971.

Beginning in 1973, the IAAF began hosting the renamed World Cross Country Championships each year. In 1975, the New Zealand men and United States women won, marking the first championships by non-European countries. In 1981 an African nation (Ethiopia) won the men's race for the first time, and a decade later an African nation (Kenya) won the women's race for the first time. Ethiopia or Kenya has captured every men's title since 1981 and every women's title since 2001. Through 2010, Kenya has won 40 World Cross Country Championships and Ethiopia has won 23.[16]

Notable athletes


  • Kenenisa Bekele won both short and long World Cross Country course titles in the same year five times (2002–2006), after a junior men victory and senior long course silver in 2001. The IAAF calls him the "greatest ever male cross country runner to have graced the sport."[17]
  • Carlos Lopes – first man to win World Cross Country title three times.
  • John Ngugi – first man to win five World Cross Country titles, including four consecutively in the late 1980s.
  • Paavo Nurmi was a four-time Olympic gold medalist and undefeated throughout his 19-year career in cross country running
  • Gaston Roelants – four-time champion at the International Cross Country Championship between 1962 and 1972.
  • Paul Tergat – long course champion five years in a row (1995–1999), plus a bronze medal finish in 2000.
  • Steve Prefontaine - Held 7 different American Records, won 3 Division 1 NCAA Cross Country Championships, and helped inspire the Running boom of the 1970s


  • Doris Brown – won the International Cross Country Championship for five consecutive years (1967–1971).
  • Zola Budd – young prodigy who twice won women's World championship (1985–1986), known for running barefooted.
  • Tirunesh Dibaba – won three times at the World long course and once at the short.
  • Lynn Jennings – won World title three times.
  • Edith Masai – won the World short race three times.
  • Derartu Tulu – won World titles three times in six years (1995, 1997, 2000).
  • Grete Waitz – first athlete to win five IAAF World Cross Country titles.
  • Gete Wami – won twice at the World long course and once at the short.
  • Sonia O'Sullivan – was the first person who achieved wins in both the short and long races in the World Cross-Country Championships (1998)

Regional organizations

In addition to the World Cross Country Championships, the IAAF sponsors six annual area-level competitions: the African Cross Country Championships, Asian Cross Country Championships, European Cross Country Championships, NACAC Cross Country Championships, Oceania Cross Country Championships and South American Cross Country Championships.

Beyond championships, IAAF world cross country meetings include the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country, Cross Internacional de Itálica, Antrim International Cross Country, Cinque Mulini, Nairobi Cross, Chiba International Cross Country, Fukuoka International Cross Country meet, Eurocross and Almond Blossom Cross Country.[18]


Cross country running is organized at the state level by the athletics association for each state. In Queensland this Queensland Athletics.[19] In the Masters category (over 30), this is organized by Australian Masters Athletics. Brisbane will host the Australian Masters Nationals Championships,[20] April 21–24, 2011 with the Cross Country hosted by Thompson Estate and Eastern Suburbs Athletics [21] at Minnippi Parklands.

The cross country season in Brisbane is usually March – September. During the season there is usually one race each week in a different park, generally organized and hosted by one of the participating clubs. Photos of such events can be found here.[22]


Cross country running is a far-reaching sport in Canada. In middle school, races are more serious and are divided by grade and gender. In high school, the races are far-reaching and tend to be the main talent pool (especially at the senior level) for university- or national-level runners. At the university level, the sport is administered by Canadian Interuniversity Sport.[23]

United Kingdom

The organization of cross country running in the United Kingdom has continued to be mostly devolved to the four national associations: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The sport is based around the clubs, which usually are mixed cross country and road running clubs. The English Cross Country Association is part of the Amateur Athletic Association.

Cross country running takes place from roughly September until March. Most matches are parts of different cross country leagues, which are organized on an ad hoc basis. These vary from large, high quality leagues, such as the London Metropolitan Cross Country League, Birmingham League, Hampshire League, Essex League and Surrey League (which is unusual in requiring ten runners to score) to small, local leagues (such as the Gloucestershire AA league), and individual clubs can (and typically are) member of several leagues.

Typically there will be four or five fixtures a season. Also, there are county championships, area championships (North, South, and Midlands), the national championship (whose location rotates around the three areas), and the Inter-Counties Championship organise by the UK Counties Athletics Union, where runners compete for their counties and not their clubs.

There can be many additional inter-club matches, particularly among the older clubs. Most league matches are around 10 km (6.2 mi) long, and most championships 12 to 15 km (approximately 7½ to 9 miles) long. Most clubs are mixed, though men's and women's races tend to be run separately.

Secondary school-aged students are also to compete at local schools races, with a set number of students qualifying for county level, at which there is a further race to be eligible for the relevant national schools cross country race (e.g. the English Schools Cross Country).

At university level, there is considerable competition available. University clubs typically compete both locally (via English Athletics) as well as between universities - with larger fixtures organized through BUCS.

Primary schools, although more often the juniors, also participate in cross country events and some areas of England have done so since the late 1960s. An example would be schools near Ouston, County Durham which compete as part of Chester-le-Street & District Primary Cross Country Association.[24]

United States

Roy Griak Invitational cross country meet, University of Minnesota

USA Track & Field hosts four annual national cross country championships. The USA Cross Country Championships, first held in 1890, include six races: masters women (8 km), masters men (8 km), junior women (6 km), junior men (8 km), open women (8 km) and open men (12 km). In addition to crowning national champions, the championships serve as the trials race to select the Team USA squad for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. The USA Masters 5  a km Cross Country Championships, first held in 2002, incl men's race and a women's race. The USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, first held in 1998, feature the top clubs from across the United States as they vie for honors and bragging rights as the nation's top cross country team. The USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, first held in 2001, has raced for boys and girls in five different two-year age divisions.[25]

The New York State Federation Championship cross country meet

Most American universities and colleges field men's and women's cross country teams as part of their athletic program. Over 900 men's cross country teams and over 1000 women's cross country teams compete in the three divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.[26] Men usually race 10 km (6.2 mi) or 8 km (5.0 mi), and women usually race 6 km (3.7 mi) or 5 km (3.1 mi).[5] The season culminates in men's and women's championships. At the junior college level, men often race 4 miles.

Every state offers cross country as a high school sport for boys and girls. Over 440,000 high school students compete in cross country each year, making it the sixth-most popular sport for girls, and seventh most popular for boys.[27] The standard high school cross country race distance is 5 km (3.1 mi) for most states, with California high schools running 3-mile races, though some counties run a shorter, 3- to 4-kilometer course for girls. Beginning in 1979, the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships have offered a national championship for high school cross country runners. Since 2004, the Nike Cross Nationals have offered an alternative national championship, focused on teams rather than individuals. A 2008 film, The Long Green Line, documented the success of Joe Newton, cross country coach at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.[28]

While many middle schools (grades 6–8) in the U.S. offer cross country as a school sport, youth running clubs dominate in this age group. A typical middle school course is 3 km (1.9 mi) or 2 mi (3.2 km), and races may not split up boys and girls. Few elementary schools in the U.S. have school teams, but many running clubs exist for youth runners. Youth running clubs compete in local, regional, and national championships sanctioned by the AAU or USATF. Course distances for this age group vary depending on the age of the athlete. Common championship distances are:

Group Ages Race Distance
Bantam Under 10 3 km (1.9 mi)
Midget 10 to 12 3 km (1.9 mi)
Youth 12 to 14 4 km (2.5 mi)
Intermediate 14 to 16 5 kilometres (3.1 miles)
Young 16 to 18 5 kilometres (3.1 miles)

Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, hosts the largest cross country invitational in the United States, with over 22,000 runners from community colleges, high schools and elementary schools competing. The meet started in 1948 and continues today.[29]

Outstanding American cross country runners include Don Lash, who won seven consecutive national championships from 1934 to 1940, Pat Porter, who won eight titles from 1982 to 1989, and Steve Prefontaine, who won three NCAA national titles in cross country. 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.

The 2015 Disney movie McFarland, USA revolves around a cross-country team at a small high school.

Kros (2016) - start dječaka
A children's cross country competition in Croatia


One variation on traditional cross country is mountain running, which incorporates significant uphill and/or downhill sections as an additional challenge to the course.


  1. ^ Runners World. Accessed 9 March 2015.
  2. ^ Cross country – Introduction Archived 2011-02-27 at the Wayback Machine. IAAF. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  3. ^ a b IAAF Competition Rules 2010–2011 Archived December 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. IAAF. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  4. ^ USA Track & Field 2011 Competition Rules. USATF. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b c 2011/2012 NCAA Men's and Women's Track & Field and Cross Country Rules. NCAA. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  6. ^ Groves, Harry. Tactics & Strategy. Cross Country Journal Vol II, Num 2. July–August 1984.
  7. ^ Mackenzie, Brian. Cross Country – Tactical approach. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  8. ^ Newton, Joe with Joe Henderson (1998). Coaching Cross Country Successfully. Human Kinetics. pp. 83–88. ISBN 978-0-88011-701-2.
  9. ^ 2011 NFHS Track & Field and Cross Country Rules Book. NFHS.
  10. ^ Burfoot, Amby (July 2006). "Common Ground". Runners World. 92.
  11. ^ a b "Paavo Nurmi at the Olympic Games – Paris 1924". The Sports Museum of Finland. Archived from the original on 13 February 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  12. ^ Burnton, Simon (18 May 2012). "50 stunning Olympic moments No31: Paavo Nurmi wins 5,000m in 1924". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  13. ^ a b Raevuori, Antero (1997). Paavo Nurmi, juoksijoiden kuningas (in Finnish) (2nd ed.). WSOY. pp. 179–180. ISBN 978-9510218501.
  14. ^ a b Lovesey, Peter (1968). The Kings of Distance: A Study of Five Great Runners. Taylor & Francis. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-3540002383.
  15. ^ Medallists database Olympic Movement.
  16. ^ USATF Cross Country Championships Media Handbook. USATF. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  17. ^ Cross country – Landmarks Archived 2011-02-27 at the Wayback Machine IAAF.
  18. ^ IAAF Calendar Archived 2011-01-23 at the Wayback Machine. IAAF.
  19. ^ Queensland Athletics. Retrieved on 2015-08-20.
  20. ^ Australian Masters Nationals Championships. (2013-01-24). Retrieved on 2015-08-20.
  21. ^ Thompson Estate Athletics, Brisbane athletics and cross country running club. Retrieved on 2015-08-20.
  22. ^ Thompson Estate Athletics, Brisbane athletics and cross country running club photos.
  23. ^ CIS Cross Country Championships. CIS. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  24. ^ Chester-le-street schools. Retrieved November 2011.
  25. ^ USA Track & Field – Cross Country USATF.
  26. ^ NCAA Sports Sponsorship Archived 2010-12-30 at the Wayback Machine. NCAA. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  27. ^ National Federation of State High School Associations NFHS.
  28. ^ The Long Green Line (2008) – IMDb IMDB.
  29. ^ About The Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational Mt. San Antonio College.

Further reading

  • Havitz, Mark E., and Eric D. Zemper, "'Worked Out in Infinite Detail': Michigan State College's Lauren P. Brown and the Origins of the NCAA Cross Country Championships," Michigan Historical Review, (Spring 2013) 39#1 pp. 1–39.
2012 European Cross Country Championships

The 2012 European Cross Country Championships was the 19th edition of the cross country running competition for European athletes which was held in Szentendre, Hungary on 9 December.

Andrea Lalli of Italy won the men's title to become the country's first ever champion at the competition. The men's team race was won by Spain. Fionnuala Britton was the winner in the senior women's race, becoming the first woman to retain her title. Team Ireland took gold in the senior women's race.

2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships

The 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships was hosted in the city of Kampala, Uganda's capital. This 42nd edition was held on 26 March 2017.

African Cross Country Championships

The African Cross Country Championships is a regional cross country running competition for athletes from Africa.

Arab Cross Country Championships

The Arab Cross Country Championships (Arabic: البطولة العربية ال لاختراق الضاحية‎) is an international competition in cross country running between Arabic countries. Organised by the Arab Athletics Federation, it was first contested in 1978 and held its twentieth edition in 2013. Originally hosted on an annual basis, then a biennial schedule from 1990 to 2002, the competition has not been held at regular intervals in recent years.

It features four races, which all combine an individual and team element. There is a men's long race, a women's long race, and two shorter races for both sexes in an under-20 (junior) category. The first three editions of the championships had senior races only and a men's junior race was introduced in 1982. The women's junior race followed in 1986. Short races for the senior athletes were also previously held (starting in 2000) but these were dropped after the discipline stopped being held at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships after 2006.It is the third most prominent athletics tournament for Arab athletes, after the Arab Athletics Championships and the Athletics at the Pan Arab Games.

Asian Cross Country Championships

The Asian Cross Country Championships is a biennial regional cross country running competition for athletes from Asia. It is organised by the Asian Athletics Association and was first held in 1991 in Fukuoka, Japan. The competition has been held every two years since then, although the 2003 edition was postponed due to political conflicts within the region.The championships comprises four races: separate senior races for men and for women, and two corresponding junior races for the sexes. Furthermore, in each of the four races athletes compete simultaneously for both individual medals and team medals. For the team competitions, the final positions of the best finishing runners from each country are combined and the team with the lowest points total wins.Athletes and teams of Japan, China and Iran have historically been the most successful of the championships. However, Qatar and Bahrain have become increasingly dominant since 2005, led by a number of East African-born athletes who have transferred allegiance to the small Middle-Eastern states.The 2011 edition, set for February in Kathmandu, was postponed after the Nepalese government did not provide the requisite funds needed to host the event. China took over the hosting rights and held the 11th edition the following year in Qingzhen.

Athletics at the 1912 Summer Olympics – Men's individual cross country

At the 1912 Summer Olympics, the men's individual cross country race was held as part of the athletics programme. It was the first appearance of the event. The competition was held on Monday, July 15, 1912. Forty-five runners from nine nations competed.

Balkan Cross Country Championships

The Balkan Cross Country Championships is an annual international competition in cross country running between athletes from the Balkans. Organised by the Association of the Balkan Athletics Federations, it traces its history back to 1940 and has been held every year since 1958 (with the exception of 2010).

The championships features two races: a ten-kilometre (6.2-mile) race for men and an eight-kilometre (5-mile) race for women. The distances of the races have varied over the lifetime of the event. Originally the men's race was a 10 km race, but this changed to a 12 km (7.5 miles) race during the period from 1977 to 2008. The women's race began with a 2 km distance, increasing to 4 km in 1977, then 6 km from 1998 to 2008. National team competitions are held within the individual races, with each nation's score being the total of the finishing positions of their best three athletes.The first edition in 1940 was a men's only competition (Josip Kotnik of Yugoslavia was the inaugural winner). A 15-year gap followed after the onset of World War II and the regional event was reborn in 1955. A two-year gap followed, but the 1958 edition, where Yugoslavia's Olympic medallist and International Cross Country champion Franjo Mihalić was victorious, marked the full establishment of the competition; the Balkan championship was contested annually thereafter. A women's race was held for the first time the following year and Akhad Dil Ciraj of Turkey became the first women's champion.It is one of three major Balkan regional championships for the sport of athletics, alongside the two annual track and field events – the Balkan Games and the Balkan Indoor Athletics Championships.

Cambridge University Hare and Hounds

Cambridge University Hare and Hounds (CUH&H) is the University of Cambridge cross country running club. It has been providing training and competitions for its members since 7 February 1880. The club's activities are based at the University’s track facilities at Wilberforce Road off Madingley Road and the grass of Jesus Green in Cambridge, England. Past members include the 1956 Olympic Steeplechase gold medallist Chris Brasher, England international Bruce Tulloh, the Australian miler Herb Elliott, scientist Alan Turing, top 1,500m runner Andrew Baddeley, and 2012 Summer Olympics & World Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee.

Mike Turner, an international distance runner in the 1960s was CUH&H president for thirty years until his retirement in 2006.

The focus each winter is on the Varsity match against University of Oxford Cross Country Club, in which competitors may receive a University Sporting Blue on merit of performance. This is one of the oldest annual fixtures of its kind in the world, having been held since 1880, with only world wars breaking up the series. The event is currently split over two weekends, with the second to fourth teams competing at Cambridge or Oxford, followed by the first team match at Wimbledon Common.

The second major fixture of the year is the BUCS cross-country championships.

Cross country running shoe

Cross country running shoes are made for cross country running, a form of long distance running. Season-specific trainers are available for different types of training.

European Cross Country Championships

The European Cross Country Championships is an annual international cross country running competition. Organised by the European Athletic Association, it is the area championships for the region and is held in December each year. The championships was inaugurated in 1994 in Alnwick and the venue for the championships changes each year.

Unlike the World Championships for the sport, the European Cross Country Championships consists of six races in age categories, with separate senior, under-23, and junior races for both men and women. There are individual and national team medals awarded in each race. In the team competition, the top three from a team of up to six are scored.

Foot Locker Cross Country Championships

The Foot Locker Cross Country Championships are a series of annual cross country running races held in various regions of the United States to determine the premier cross country runner in various age groups, but mainly serves to find the best prep (high school) cross country athlete in the country. The event began in 1979 by the F. W. Woolworth Company, which initially branded it as the Kinney Cross Country Championships, (for the Kinney Shoes division) at the Morley Field Sports Complex in Balboa Park, San Diego, California before Woolworth rebranded the event in 1993 to its present title, the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, as it still is today, for Woolworth's sporting goods company. For most people associated with the sport, the name is just shortened to Foot Locker or even abbreviated in agate results as FL (the ticker symbol of the company today). The event is the longest-running national cross country race for high school students.

Modern pentathlon

The modern pentathlon is an Olympic sport that comprises five different events; fencing (one-touch épée), freestyle swimming (200m), equestrian show jumping (15 jumps), and a final combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running (3200m). This last event is now referred to as the laser-run, since it alternates four legs of laser pistol shooting followed by an 800m run (for 3200m in total). The event is inspired by the traditional pentathlon held during the ancient Olympics; as the original events were patterned on the skills needed by an ideal Greek soldier of the era, the modern pentathlon is similarly patterned on events representing the skills needed by cavalry behind enemy lines.

The sport has been a core sport of the Olympic Games since 1912 despite attempts to remove it. A world championships for modern pentathlon has been held annually since 1949.

Originally the competition took place over four or five days; in 1996 a one-day format was adopted in an effort to be more audience-friendly. Modern pentathlon, despite its long Olympic history, has had to justify its inclusion in the modern Olympic Games several times. On February 11, 2013 in Lausanne, the IOC confirmed modern pentathlon once again as one of the 25 core sports of the Olympic program through to 2020. The governing body, Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), administers the international sport in more than 90 countries in all the continents of the world.

NACAC Cross Country Championships

The NACAC Cross Country Championships is an annual regional cross country running competition for athletes representing member nations of the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC). The event was inaugurated in 2005 and was held in Florida, United States until 2009. The following two editions were held in Trinidad and Tobago.The event comprises four separate races: an 8 km senior men's race, a 6 km senior women's race, a 6 km junior men's race and finally a 4 km junior women's race.Between 1983-2003, the event was preceded by the Central American and Caribbean Cross Country Championships organized by the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Confederation (CACAC).

National championship

A national championship(s) is the top achievement for any sport or contest within a league of a particular nation or nation state. The title is usually awarded by contests, ranking systems, stature, ability, etc. This determines the best team, individual (or other entity) in a particular nation and in a particular field. Often, the use of the term cup or championship is just a choice of words.

Northfield Mountain

Northfield Mountain, 1,206 feet (368 m), is a mountain ridge located in Erving and Northfield, Massachusetts. 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long by 1.8 miles (2.9 km) long, the mountain is composed of several distinct peaks and ledges, most notably Rattlesnake Mountain (also known as Farley Ledge) 1,067 feet (325 m), Rose Ledges 1,080 feet (330 m), and Hermit Mountain (the high point). A pumped-storage hydroelectric plant and reservoir occupies the top of the mountain west of the summit.

The 114-mile (183 km) Metacomet-Monadnock Trail crosses the summit ridge of Northfield Mountain; a series of shorter hiking trails, cross country ski trails, a cross country running course, and rock climbing routes are also located on the mountain and its ledges. Northfield Mountain is located at the confluence of the Connecticut River and Millers River. A waterfall, Briggs Brook Falls, plunges from its southeast side.

Oceania Cross Country Championships

The Oceania Cross Country Championships are a biennial Cross country running competition organized by the Oceania Athletics Association (OAA) for athletes representing the countries of its member associations. They were established in 2009, and were held together with either the Australian or New Zealand national championships. Races are featured for senior and U20 and U18 athletes.

Pan American Cross Country Cup

The Pan American Cross Country Cup (Copa Panamericana de Cross Country) is an international Cross country running competition organized by the Association of Panamerican Athletics (APA) for athletes representing the countries and territories of its member associations. It was established in 2015. Races are featured for senior, junior (U-20) and youth (U-18) athletes. The inaugural 2015 edition in Barranquilla, Colombia simultaneously serves as NACAC Cross Country Championships and South American Cross Country Championships.

South American Cross Country Championships

The South American Cross Country Championships is an annual continental cross country running competition for athletes from South America or, more specifically, member countries of CONSUDATLE. It was first held in 1986, making it the oldest of the continental cross country championships. The event is typically held in late February or early March.The South American Championships in Athletics were the precursor to the competition in that cross country was featured on the main athletics programme between 1924 and 1949. After the introduction of an independent championships in 1986, multiple races were held: the initial competition schedule featured long races for senior men and women, and shorter races for junior men and women. This was expanded in 1991 with the addition of a youth competition for younger runners. Keeping in line with changes to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, the South American championships also held senior short race competitions between 1998–2006, to complement the established long races. The short races were removed from the programme after their removal from the World Championships in 2006.Brazil have been the most successful nation at the championships: they were undefeated in both of the long race team contests between 1993 and 2001.

Sport of athletics

Athletics is a collection of sporting events that involve competitive running, jumping, throwing, and walking. The most common types of athletics competitions are track and field, road running, cross country running, and race walking.

The results of racing events are decided by finishing position (or time, where measured), while the jumps and throws are won by the athlete that achieves the highest or furthest measurement from a series of attempts. The simplicity of the competitions, and the lack of a need for expensive equipment, makes athletics one of the most commonly competed sports in the world. Athletics is mostly an individual sport, with the exception of relay races and competitions which combine athletes' performances for a team score, such as cross country.

Organized athletics are traced back to the Ancient Olympic Games from 776 BC. The rules and format of the modern events in athletics were defined in Western Europe and North America in the 19th and early 20th century, and were then spread to other parts of the world. Most modern top level meetings are conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations and its member federations.

The athletics meeting forms the backbone of the Summer Olympics. The foremost international athletics meeting is the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, which incorporates track and field, marathon running and race walking. Other top level competitions in athletics include the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. Athletes with a physical disability compete at the Summer Paralympics and the World Para Athletics Championships.

The word athletics is derived from the Ancient Greek ἀθλητής (athlētēs, "combatant in public games") from ἆθλον (athlon, "prize") or ἆθλος (athlos, "competition"). Initially, the term was used to describe athletic contests in general – i.e. sporting competition based primarily on human physical feats. In the 19th century, the term athletics acquired a more narrow definition in Europe and came to describe sports involving competitive running, walking, jumping and throwing. This definition continues to be the most prominent one in the United Kingdom and most of the areas of the former British Empire. Furthermore, foreign words in many Germanic and Romance languages which are related to the term athletics also have a similar meaning.

In much of North America, athletics is synonymous with sports in general, maintaining a more historical usage of the term. The word "athletics" is rarely used to refer to the sport of athletics in this region. Track and field is preferred, and is used in the United States and Canada to refer to most athletics events, including racewalking and marathon running (although cross country running is typically considered as a separate sport).

World championships
International cross country running championships
Bicycle racing
Animal racing
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Multi-sport racing

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