Crash course in cross-country
Races are typically four to 12K in length, with runners judged on individual times and teams by a point-scoring method. Many of the world’s best runners started out in cross-country, with the likes of Mo Farah and marathon world record holder Dennis Kimetto finding their feet on boggy ground.
How to recognise the cross-country runner
Despite protestations to the contrary, few cross-country runners look like they’re having fun, in the moment. The most frequent expression is one of excruciating, ‘why do I never remember how much this hurts’ pain.
With loyalty that knows no bounds, the cross-country runner will go to extraordinary lengths to gain valuable points for his club – getting the 07:03 to Cheadle on a Sunday morning, for instance.
Caked in mud
Like a pig in something with a similar consistency, the cross- country runner adores mud. No race is complete without a liberal covering of the brown stuff, and no Sunday fulfilled if at least an hour isn’t spent removing it from shoes, clothes, orifices etc.
Don’t be fooled by the cross- country runner’s slimmed-down frame. Beneath the wiry exterior is a strength matched by no other runner; forged by hundreds of hours of powering uphill – and wrestling shoes on with frozen hands.
(Very) short shorts
In a throwback to the care-free, modesty-defying days of yesteryear, the cross-country runner’s shorts breach the gap between loin cloth and nappy. But when you’ve got such impeccable knee lift and cast-iron quads, who can blame him?
With soles dreamed up by a medieval torturer, cross-country spikes are designed to provide grip over the boggiest of terrain. They also act as a handy deterrent for any would-be overtakers thinking of making a move…