Cross Country Running is different.
It is a race between teams, where runners grouped as teams are obligated to finish a path made of rough and open terrain. Unlike road or track running races, cross country running includes courses covered in grass or mud, water and woodlands. Teams are usually composed of four to twelve runners, which add to the popularity of cross country running.
Scoring is based upon the performance of each team runner, paving the way to an over all score. In cross country racing, a team is as strong as its weakest runner. The sport almost always takes place during the fall and also winter, which is ideal since soft ground conditions add a certain challenge level to the race.
The sport started from England during the 1800s, where public schools often patronized them. In 1868, Roehampton, on the south-west areas of London, and parts of Wimbledon Common became the area for cross country running sports. Responsible for this were the members of Thames Rowing Club.
In their efforts in finding ideal exercises during winter, when no rowing could be done due to the frozen state of water bodies, the club formed Thames Hare and Hounds, which organized cross country running races. They were later joined by various “hare and hounds” organizations. Peckham Hare and Hounds in 1869, Cheshire Tally Ho Hare and Hounds in 1872, Birchfield Harriers in 1877, Cambridge University Hare and Hounds in 1880 and Ranelagh Harriers in 1881.
The “hunting” related names of the clubs could be somewhat attributed to how cross country running matches were held. Runners were divided into hares and hounds, where the hares leave behind their “scent” through scattering pieces of paper as they run. The hounds would then “sniff” a hare’s trail, making the race happen among the hares and hounds, as well as within the ranks of the hounds.
Upon the introduction of the sport into the United States in 1878, cross country running was welcomed as a training regimen for track and field athletes. Eventually, after nine years, cross country running was accepted as a formal sport in America.
The sport was eliminated after 1942 from the Olympic Games after 1924, as it wasn’t seen to be appropriate as a summer sport. Cross country running requires the most minimal when it comes to sport gear, not even requiring specialized equipment. Uniforms are needed for team identification, as the ideal shoes for cross country running are overall performance shoes, like light spiked shoes.
All in all, cross country running is different. It demands runners to be on tip top shape, makes them weather the elements, and connectively act as one, in an effort to win a race.