14 Oldpark Terrace, Belfast BT14 6NN

Cross Country FAQ / Junior & Masters XC

Q: What is cross country?

A: Cross country (XC) is a type of running that takes place on a short grass surface comparable to football fields. Often it includes running through ankle deep mud and up small hills on a multiple lap course. A video of  a local cross country can be seen here: Junior XC 2014

Q: What distance is a cross country race?

A: It differs. Womens races tend to be between 5-8km (3-5 miles) and the mens range from 6-12km (4-7 miles). Men and women run in separate races with masters also running in separate races from seniors.

Q: Do i need special shoes?

A: Yes. Due to muck, normal running shoes will not give you the required grip you need to navigate around the course. A pair of lightweight “spikes” as they are called should be used. They get their name from the removable spikes on the bottom which dig into the dirt giving you much better grip. The spikes can be removed and replaced with longer or shorter spikes depending on the conditions of the course.

Spike usually only cost around £40 and one pair will last you for years if looked after. An example of XC spikes can be found here: XC Spikes

A word of warning always check to make sure the shoes being purchased are XC spikes and not track spikes these are not the same thing.

Q: What length of spikes do i need?

A: Longer spikes (12mm) are suited for really muddy courses while (3mm) are used for dry courses. Multiple lengths or spikes are found in between with 6mm being the most common and usually all spikes purchased will come with this length of spike. Conditions on the day and personal preference will dictate which size you use. The spikes can be purchased for about £3 for a set from PureRunning.

Q: Do these shoes come with spikes?

A: Yes. It would be extremely unusual if they didn’t.

Q: Why should i run XC?

A: Firstly because it’s something different. We all like to challenge ourselves. We take on longer races progressing to the marathon some even go beyond. We all try and improve our times setting new PBs and hitting the magical time bands. Completing a cross country race could be one of your new targets.

It’s fun. Some people maybe don’t know it yet but they will end up preferring XC over road running. If you enjoy trail running and hill running and revel in running in tough conditions XC is right up your street.

The benefits to your running that XC will bring are enormous. You could ask any top athlete whether they think XC can benefit a runner of any level and i’m sure all of them would say yes. We hope to organise a talk on the benefits to training that XC can bring in the future.

Q: Can anyone enter a XC race?

A: Yes. XC is experiencing a resurgence in popularity recently. Over 400 people took part in the recent day of races in Comber from all spectrums of ability and age.

Q: What age is a master athlete?

A: 35-40 is the starting age category for masters athletes with a five year block for each group afterwards up to 70+. Like road racing prizes are handed out for each age category.

Q: How much does it cost to enter?

A: Usually between £5-8.

Q: The Junior & Masters XC race was mentioned recently what is this?

A: The Junior or intermediate as it’s known is the second biggest XC race of the year. The name “junior” does not refer to an age group it refers to a level of ability. Strict entry criteria means that runners who have won this event or other related events can not compete in this race which makes the race a great place to showcase emerging talent within the club and makes the race a great spectator event. The masters race is on the same day but is run separate from the “junior” race. The only criteria for this is that you are over 35+.  More information about the race can be found here: http://athleticsni.org/Fixtures/NI-Ulster-Intermediate-and-Masters-Cross-Country

Q: Who can enter this race?

A: Almost everyone. Only a small few within the club are excluded based on the criteria mentioned in the above question. The club knows who this is so you don’t need to worry if you want to enter.

Q: Is there a masters race?

A: Yes. The masters races are actually the NI and Ulsters XC Championship race so for a master athlete this is the race you want to win.

Q: When and where is the race?

A: Saturday the 28th of January at 1:00 pm in the Gransha in Derry.

Q: How do i get there?

A: The club will organise a bus if enough people put their name forward to run. (Currently there looks to be sufficient interest to run a bus).

Q: How do i enter?

A: The club has to submit the details of those who wish to run in advance of the race so we have put a small form online for us to collect your details. If you want to run just complete the short form below and that’s it.