Guide to Cross Country
Hello FRC! We are your FRC Cross Country Captains, Andy Stringer, Chris Cooper, Judith Clarkson and Amy Tayler.
Cross-country (aka “XC”, Katherine!)…. For any new runners to our club, we hope this will be helpful. The cross-country season traditionally runs from mid-October until late February, and we make a big deal of it at FRC. We love cross-country because it’s big, it’s cheap, it’s fun, and we have the noisiest supporters, with cowbells!
There are various competitions, over various distances, courses and with various entry procedures. It can be a rather confusing prospect, even for the seasoned (two seasons!) cross-country runner. However, we’re here to help. Spend a few minutes reading through this guide, and you’ll be ready to get stuck into the best and most sociable running you are likely to do all year!
What is cross-country?
As the name suggests, these are off-road events, usually with several hundred competitors from various running clubs and they tend to take place at our green spaces. Despite London not being exactly the countryside, there’s plenty of cross-country to be done inside the M25.
Organised cross-country races take place most Saturday afternoons. There are various different cross-country leagues and championship races (see fixture details below). The women’s races tend to be between 6 and 8km in length, whilst the men typically run between 8 and 12km. Some courses are hilly, some flat. If it rains a lot, the courses can get very muddy. But that’s half the fun! Above all, cross-country is a sociable team event. No sponsors, no burning bales of hay or camouflage nets to crawl through. Just you, a few hundred others, and the winding trail: pretty much like it’s always been since the good old days. A list of dates and competitions is included at the end of this guide, and are confirmed with our Facebook events too. Feel free to cut out the dates and put them somewhere you can see them – or at least get them in the diary!
Who runs cross-country?
EVERYONE CAN! Cross-country is very much a team sport, it is not about PBs or stopwatches. It is about running alongside your fellow FRC bandits for the joy of being part of our great club. Cross-country is open to all adults, all ages, all abilities.
Cross-country is sociable, inclusive, and fun, so long as you don’t mind getting dirty. No one at FRC should think that cross-country is beyond them. We have a proud tradition of having runners in the black and white stripes near the front and back end of every race, and we value them all the same. You will undoubtedly be encouraged to take part and you do not need to be selected by the club to run. It is all about representation; if you want to run, we want you on the team!
Why run cross-country?
In brief: pretty much all athletes who compete over 800m or more find that cross-country is an ideal way to build endurance and fitness over the autumn and winter, ideal focus for your ‘off-season’. If you are training for a spring marathon, cross-country will give you a fantastic base of fitness and endurance to build on. And if you just like to run socially, cross-country is the most popular mass-participation running we do. So, let’s be clear: run cross-country because it’s good for you and it’s good fun. The end. (Well, not quite the end; please keep reading!)
What do I need to run cross-country?
Not much. You must wear the club vest for the cross-country races, and have appropriate footwear too. Otherwise it’s pretty much up to you. If you need a club vest (everyone does!), you can follow this link to place an order. Please speak with Andy Han with any kit queries.
For footwear, if it’s dry, your standard road shoes should get you round or you can run in trail shoes if you prefer. For the more dedicated cross-country runners, spiked shoes are a worthwhile investment at around £40, often less on sale. You can change spikes according to running conditions: short 9mm for dry course, 12mm average British conditions and 15mm for mud-bath conditions. If in doubt, speak to an old hand (Andy Han can advise!). Spikes are light, cheap, and you can clean them under a tap when you get home.
Apart from that, you should bring the following to races: some safety pins to attach your running number to your vest, warm clothing for before and after (and a bin bag to store them in – there is no bag drop, so please don’t bring your crown jewels!), some water, and even a small snack for afterwards. Other considerations can be a hot thermos flask and a change of footwear and some dry socks for travelling home in. Please don’t use personal stereos when you race. Apart from the safety aspect, you won’t be able to hear your fellow FRC bandits cheering you on. Lastly, bring you FRC cowbell and your loudest voice for cheering!
What are the various cross-country competitions all about?
Cross-country races divide into two categories: League and Championship. All races involve us competing (in a spirit of friendship and a shared passion for running) against other running clubs in the region for bragging rights!
We are now in our third year as part of the Surrey League. The league holds 4 races, from October to February. These are always on a Saturday, and are up to 6km for Women and 8km for Men. Every FRC member is invited to take part in any one or all of these races. Doing one doesn’t mean that you are obliged to do others, although we’d obviously love it if you did.
Championship races are one-off events each season. The main Championship races are the London XC Relay Champs, London Champs, Southern England Champs, and the National Champs. These last two races are the biggest, often with over a thousand runners taking part; it’s something really special to be a part of!
How do I enter a cross-country race?
1 – Surrey League:
We create FRC Facebook events with all of the race dates you will need. More specific details (maps, travel, parking, race times) will be confirmed closer to the race dates, so keep your eyes peeled!
How do I enter? You cannot enter on the day. Our XC captains need to register you as part of the team. For this reason, please RSVP to the Facebook events and they will contact you with all the details required for entry. You will be assigned a race number for the season which your XC captain will distribute at each race. Please return these after each event so we can keep tabs on all the race bibs.
How much does it cost? For Fulham Running Club England Athletics (EA) registered runners, it’s free! If you need EA annual membership, please contact Henri Placek. This costs £20 for the year. If you don’t want to become an EA member you can still run for the club, but we ask that you contribute £5 per race.
If you are already a member of another EA running club, please contact Andy Stringer or Judith about running as a second claim runner.
On the day, please aim to arrive at least 45 mins before the race starts. This will allow our xc captains time to get you and themselves sorted before the race! You’ll find the team underneath one of our awesome club flags – which marks our meeting point.
2 – Championship Races:
You will need to be EA affiliated to take part in these races as part of FRC.
Facebook events will be arranged for these races in good time. Again, please RSVP to these events if you want to take part. We hope you will.
Andy Stringer & Judith Clarkson will need details from you before the entry deadlines to enter you as a club member. No fiddly form-filling or paperwork to send off somewhere.
How do the team competitions work?
You needn’t worry about this if you just want to run for the fun of it. If you’re interested, this is how cross-country competition generally tends to work.
1 – Surrey League:
For the first time, an A and a B team will score points across the leagues. For both teams, the top 10 Men and top 5 Women to finish for FRC will score on the day. This essentially means that we have 20 men and 10 women whose efforts all contribute to team scoring! These runners are awarded points based on their finishing order. So, if 100 runners take part in a race, the first runner to finish scores 1 point and the last, 100 points. The points for our first 10 men (or 5 women) are added together and compared to those of other clubs in their division. Those of us who do not finish in the scoring team still have the challenge to finish ahead of our competition, thereby potentially reducing their total points score and giving FRC a better chance of beating them. Of course there are bragging rights to be had for individuals too, according to where they finish on the day, relative to both their club mates and runners from other clubs, and there is personal silverware at stake. However, this is all of secondary importance. The main thing is taking part for the club, and enjoying it. The team with the lowest total wins on the day, and the team with the smallest running total over all four races in a season will win their division. If the club fails to finish the required number of scorers, the remaining places shall be totalled up and distributed evenly amongst the blank positions. PLEASE, we cannot let this happen! Club teams get promoted and relegated between the divisions each season.
2 – Championship Races:
These races are also scored according the finishing place of each club’s runners. A slight difference will be number of runners to score, which varies from race to race.
Training for cross-country
So long as you are able to run around 6-8km (women) and 8-12km (men) then you’re good to go!. However, if you’d like to focus your training in order to get quicker, then joining in on our Tuesday interval session is a great start.
Feel free to post any queries on Facebook. Alternatively, please contact Andy Stringer, Chris Cooper, Judith Clarkson or Amy Tayler either on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fixtures are listed on:
Saturday 14th Surrey League Women Round 1 – Priory Park, Reigate
Saturday 14th Surrey League Men Round 1 – Wimbledon Common
Saturday 21st London XC Relay Championships – Wormwood Scrubs
Saturday 11th Surrey League Women Round 2 – Nonsuch Park, Cheam
Saturday 11th Surrey League Men Round 2 – Richmond Park
Saturday 18th London XC Championships – Parliament Hill
Sunday 10th FRC Club XC Champs on Second Sunday 5 – Wimbledon Common
Saturday 13th Surrey League Women Round 3 – Wimbledon Common
Saturday 13th Surrey League Men Round 3 – Beckenham Park
Saturday 10th Surrey League Women Round 4 – Richmond Park
Saturday 10th Surrey League Men Round 4 – Lloyd Park, Croydon
Saturday 24th National Cross Country Championship – Parliament Hill