What makes cross-country different from road running or track running is that the courses could consist of open terrain, grass, sand, woodlands, mud, and open water. Fell running, also known as mountain running and hill running, goes off road over upland country where the gradient climbed is a significant component of the difficulty.
The length in courses varies in each school and/or university. For men, the courses could be anywhere from 5000 to 12,000 meters, and for the women, the races are about 2,000 to 5,000 meters.
Scoring is different than any other sport, wherein the less points each team has the better. No matter how many athletes there are on a team, only 5 teammates score and the points equal the place the runner would finish within the race. For example, if a runner were to finish in 3rd place, that runner would get 3 points. All five runners' points would be added up at the end of the race and the team with the least amount of points is the winner.
The sport can be dated back to the 1800s in England where it was a team sport in public schools. At that time, the sport was named “Hare and Hounds” or “The Paper Chase”. The sport would consist of a group of runners that would lay a trail of paper or other devices to mark a trail and another group of runners would follow the trail.
In 1837, the first competition was held at Rugby School, which later turned into the sport having a course pre set over open country land. The sport became so popular in England in the later 1800s and finally, in 1876 the first English National Cross-Country Championship took place.
Rough-and-ready attire is an integral part of the event. While safety precautions have been taken, the nature of this event recommends that runners wear attire that reduces the possibility of mishap, such as long pants, boots, long-sleeve shirt and possibly gloves.
Many myths are out there on what to wear and not wear. 100% Cotton that is loose fitting is bad. Anything that retains water will soak up the mud and water and weigh you down, not to mention chaff you. Sweat Pants are extremely bad.
Tough running tights or biker shorts are quite good. Spandex is best. Knee high socks? Really bad, hello ankle weights!
Let's think a moment about running shoes. Exactly that: Running shoes! Not cross trainers, Converse sneakers or basketball shoes. Running shoes that breathe are what you want (leather is bad).
You DON'T need to duct tape your shoes onto your feet, but you may if you want to look like the serious adventure runner! Simply double-knot your laces and TUCK them in.
If you duct tape your shoes, people have the tendency to tape too hard and cut off the circulation, or limit the range of motion in your foot, causing injury. By taping, you loose 50% or more of the traction on the bottom of your shoes as well.
300 meters into the race is the first mud hole! You do the math.
From the first obstacle on, it's mud, dirt, mud after mud for two kilometers.
Then it's a then it's a three kilometer stroll.
History shows that most runners pull off the tape on the back side of the run.