Cross Country….what’s it all about?

It’s a question I’m sure you all ponder at every opportunity!

I looked up the definition of Cross Country running and courtesy of Wikipedia I got the rather interesting statement below.

“Cross country running is a sport in which teams and individuals run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain such as dirt or grass. Sometimes the runners are referred to as harriers (dogs).

It appears Wigan Harriers were born to be Cross Country runners!


Don’t be surprised to be stalked by a team mate…


In recent years World Cross Country Championships have been dominated by the East African countries but you only have to look back a generation and see the results dominated by well known British names such as Ovett, Coe, McLeod, Foster, Radcliffe to name just a few.

Sefton Park 2015 aka European qualifying event, a tad muddier than normal.


Cross Country was always seen as a fantastic opportunity to build strength and fitness prior to the track and road season. Indeed there has been recent clamour to include it in the Winter Olympics. The lower leg is worked hard coping with the varying surface. The undulations and changes in pace give a fantastic cardio boost to training. Finally coping with the slippy slopes and muddy patches really work the core and boost strength. To summarise it gives you a total body workout!

One of our finest in action on a favourite course of many, Hyndburn.


To cope with this terrain it’s to best to wear Cross Country shoes. These are usually inexpensive compared to road or trail shoes, time it right and buy last year’s colour for greater cost saving.


The shoes normally have four or five spikes that can vary in length from a few mm up to 15mm. Long spikes look savage but do a fantastic job of keeping you upright on a steep muddy bank. Just don’t forget to change to shorter ones on occasion so you don’t do this to them!

Cross Country combines elements of team and individual performance. Clubs are arranged in leagues and each runner clocks up points. 1st place is 1, 100th is 100 points. For the men it’s 6 runners per team so first 6 count as ‘A’ team next 6 as ‘B’ etc. Usually for the age classes it’s 4 counters. For the ladies it’s three per team in all classes. This gives the opportunty for all runners to make a contribution. In a normal race your time is important but in XC it’s all about your position. Many Harriers have been seen to throw themsleves over the finish line to gain a place and it’s not unusual to see teams split by a single point. It’s often a buzz when the results come out to see how it’s all panned out. If that’s not enough the team position counts in the league. Grouped typically in a league of 7 you want your team to finsh ahead of the other 6. Just to confuse things the scoring is now the other way round 7 points for 1st place. (Points make prizes!)

Look at that smile from a XC first timer! Can’t guarantee snow for every race.


A medal earnt from a XC season is a highly prized reward for a whole season’s efforts, small bling they might be but richly deserved.

Wigan Harriers compete in two leagues.

Mid Lancs – 6 fixtures, 3 before and 3 after Christmas.

2016 at Towneley Park


2016 at Rossall School.


Red Rose – 4 fixtures, all before Christmas.

Not enough for you? Don’t worry we also usually tackle the Northern Championships and the National Championships.

2016 Northern Championships Witton Park…it was hell on earth! We were not smiling afterwards!


2016 National Championships at Donnington Park


2016/17 Season opener on an excellent Chorley course. Stream crossing, muddy ditch, woodland, steep climbs, it had them all…


Sunny Leigh…no mud!


What’s to come?

Mid Lancs
29th October 2016 Cuerden Valley Park
26th November 2016 Sefton Park,
14th January 2017 Towneley Park
11th February 2017 Rossall School
4th March 2017 Leigh

Red Rose
29th October Witton Park (Seniors should do Mid Lancs please).
12th November Leverhulme Park
3rd December Rossendale

To run for the club you just need to be a member and have a vest, nothing more, no selection criteria. Just turn up and run your heart out. You’ll love it, I promise you or your money back!



One thought on “Cross Country….what’s it all about?

  1. Pingback: Cuerden Valley Cross Country | wiganharriersendurance

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