Cross country running is a long-distance track and field sport. It takes place on an outdoor course, often on grass or dirt. Athletes compete in the public domain, against the clock rather than opposing teams. It can be contested by both genders and all age groups.
On a cross country running course there are typically any number of obstacles, such as rocks or tree roots. Due to the short distance of races over various terrain, strategy is less important than in some other forms of racing like road running. Athletes must balance their energy between keeping enough reserves to tackle any obstacles they might encounter (eg avoiding tripping on a root) but not slowing down unnecessarily.
History of Cross country running:
Though it is difficult to determine exactly when humans began running long-distance races, the activity can be certainly traced back to ancient times. The great Greek and Egyptian civilizations used to stage foot races in their stadiums. In Africa, some of the oldest pictorial records show warriors pursuing animals by foot. Races were also held between runners who were rapidly followed by large groups of observers. It is quite possible that these types of competitions evolved into the modern sport of running.
The foundations for cross country as a distinct discipline were laid in Britain during the second half of the 19th century. The English public schools where students had to take part in physical exercise and traditional races were extended over greater distances. The English were inspired by the race of nearly forty kilometers which was held in 1809 between Melton Mowbray and Nottingham.
The first modern cross country competition took place on February 27, 1862, among the athletes at the Royal Shrewsbury School. At this point, cross country was regularly included as part of the English school’s cross country competition. The first school to introduce cross country officially was the Rugby School in 1864. The English runner who won that historic race is considered by many to be the father of modern cross country running i-e; Charles William Horn.
Advantages of cross country running:
Cross country running is a low-impact sport and therefore easier on the body than many others. This also means it’s less susceptible to injury.
It can be practiced by people of all ages, even if the practice is slower than normal. However young athletes should always be supervised by an adult in case they wear themselves out or get tired too quickly.
It’s widely accessible because the equipment required is minimal. All that’s needed are running shoes and athletic clothing.
Disadvantages of cross country running:
The low impact nature means people with weak bones will struggle to run long distances, which isn’t ideal for athletes looking to increase their speed.
The uneven nature of cross country running also means the body absorbs more shock than normal, which can damage bones over time. This is especially true in young people because their bones are still growing and therefore weaker.
It’s not ideal for athletes who like to compete with other teams. Cross country races are head to head (like track and field), not team vs team.