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Seattle Running Club » Cross Country 101Categories: Featured, Member Information

Cross Country 101

Marlene Farrell, SRC

Marlene Farrell (#2275) leads SRC's XC womens team.

Are you toying with the idea of running cross country for the Seattle Running Club this fall? Or, are you interested in a fun, social, exciting opportunity to run and race in a different way than road or trail races? If so, then read on.

The Basics

Women and men race separately. At some events, masters (over 40 years old) race separately from open divisions. Women run 6km and men run 8km or 10km, often on lap courses.

The race course surface is generally a combination of grass and dirt. Trails and pavement are accidental – hence the usefulness of spikes, particularly through mud.


Individuals are recognized for their overall placement but what really matters is how the team’s combined score of the five best runners compares to that of other teams. Each runner gets a number representing his/her finishing order and the team with the lowest combined score wins.

Why You?

Have you ever had a chance to compete as a part of something larger than yourself? Perhaps you’ve done a relay, or raced to raise money for a good cause. Cross country, likewise, fuses the thrill of the individual best effort with the knowledge that your effort also contributes to your team’s placement. As you pass competitors, your team score is improving, one tick at a time.

Is It Too Short?

No way. Cross country races are the perfect distance for speed over uneven terrain, around tight corners, hustling in a sea of runners, unless you’re lucky enough to be leading what can feel like a tide threatening to engulf you.

The Team Aspect

As a member of the open women’s team, I love warming up with my teammates, no matter how well we know each other, and concurrently cheering for the masters out on the course. And then, in my cool down, the open men are battling it out and happy for some encouragement. We all wear the same jersey, but underneath, we are more alike than that. We’ve come together for a love of the chase and the opportunity to both participate and support fellow runners. The bottom line, given the variety of courses, is not time, but a chance to push very hard and see what happens – this is an exciting task to accomplish and to witness in our fellow team members.

Why Now?

Why not? Last year our team was bigger than ever, with nearly 50 club members coming out to participate in one or more races. We were able to field five teams at Club Nationals, which was held in Seattle. We want to keep our momentum up so that means we need you. Cross country experience isn’t necessary. You learn it all in your first race or two. All we need is runners with grit, determination and courage to run in a pack and get dirty. And if you have other fall goals, a marathon or ultra, you can still race with us and get the benefit of a great tempo training run. The cross country races are short enough that you’ll be training again the next day.

SRC has fared well in cross country in the past. However, other teams sometimes have a stronger showing at events. Why not help SRC build a formidable team and fuel our rivalry with our local friends in orange and in red? Need more info or more reasons to join? Talk to me @ or other group leaders listed here.

Written by

Marlene is a constant fixture of the Seattle Running Club Cross Country team. Based in Leavenworth, WA, you can read more of her writing at Run Wenatchee.

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  • Amber

    Cross-Country is the best!

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