The slight briskness in the air this week in North Central Florida and elsewhere across the U.S. immediately brings to mind thoughts of cross-country (at least for this running obsessed fan).
Last Friday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course at the University of Florida, the 14th annual Mt Dew Cross-Country invitational took place. It was so great seeing teams and individuals out competing and spectators cheering them on.
This year things obviously looked very different: masks were worn at nearly all times except for the race itself, runners lined up with several feet of space between teams, and only 4 teams (UF, FSU, Miami, Georgia Tech) participated in the event (dozens of teams normally show up for this meet, although the invite has steadily shrunk in size over the past 3 years due to non-COVID reasons).
If you have never experienced a cross-country meet, I highly recommend attending one. The beauty of the sport lies in its dual focus: it is both a team and an individual sport. Each runner has the opportunity to score for the team, compete against fellow runners, and also earns his/her/their individual place and time. Combine this with the natural beauty of the setting of the sport (most cross-country races are run on golf courses, state parks, or a combination of fields and trails) and you have an event that is a feast for the senses.
The trickiest part about spectating a cross-country meet may be perhaps understanding the scoring and tallying team points as runners file into the finish chute.
Here are the scoring basics:
*lowest team score wins (kind of like golf)
*each run earns a finish place that corresponds to their earned points. For instance, the winner of a xc race earns one point, second place earns two points, the fifth place finisher earns five points, the 144th person to cross the line earns 144 points, etc.
*typically, a cross-country team consists of 7 runners in a championship race (more can usually line up in non-championship race, but this is usually up to the race director) and the top 5 score. The 6th and 7th serve as tie breakers or displacers.
*Middle school xc courses in the U.S. are usually approximately 3k long, high schoolers typically run 5k, college women run 5k or 6k, and college men run 8k or 10k.
*NCAA XC Nationals has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, however, here is the full replay of the races from November of last year in Terre Haute, IN. I am always inspired by these tough and talented athletes:
If those races and this beautiful weather inspires you to head out for a run (or walk), message me and we can get you set up with some amazing shoes to make your run more enjoyable and to help you #runyourday!
Some throwbacks from 2013 and '14(?) when I raced Mt. Dew with the UF Running Club and unattached.