As a team sport, cross country running truly tests the overall performance of a team. The sport requires runners to compete in a rough terrain course, testing speed, endurance and teamwork. With cross country running, a team is only as conditioned as its weakest team member is.
Cross country running differs from the well known track running breed of running events in the sense that a course country running trail may include areas covered in mud, grass and water. Not only are runners’ stamina levels tested, their speed, ability to adapt to the terrain and their team-coordination skills are put to the test in a cross country running event.
As each cross country running trail varies from another, even if their established distances are the same, no accurate comparison of records can be made between runner performances, due to the cross country running trail variations. Even yearly performance comparisons in the same trail can’t be established to an accurate degree, as underfoot and weather conditions change by the minute. No records of the fastest course completion times are therefore kept when it comes to cross country running.
Dating back to the 1800’s, England saw the birth of cross country running. The area of Roehampton, on the south-western areas of London, and parts of Wimbledon Common, stands as the first of cross country running trails, owing its creation to the members of Thames Rowing Club. In the club’s efforts in finding an appropriate winter exercise, cross country running came to be, and with it the making of cross country running trails.
The sport was brought to the United States in 1878, but wasn’t accepted as such until nine years later. Before then, cross country running was seen as an ideal “training module” for track runners, considering the challenges cross country running trails gave. It isn’t surprising to encounter mud in cross country running trails. Sometimes, obstacles are intentionally put in cross country running trails, in the form of still bodies of water and/or mud.
As most cross country running trails go deep into woodlands, grass covered terrains, rocky trails, and shallow bodies of water are often encountered. It is both a highly competitive type of running competition, given the nature of cross country running trails, as well as an ideal recreational form of competition.
Its original patrons were public high schools, and this hasn’t changed much until today, as most high schools host and attend various cross country running competitions.