Cross Country was introduced to the club by Daniel Floyd in the autumn of 2017. Daniel managed to enrol the club in a new league organised by the Derby Runner, which was open to clubs from Staffordshire and Derbyshire. It’s a closed league, so only members of running clubs can take part. Guest runners can enter, but they cannot score team points. Although races can be competitive, they are fairly low key events with a good, friendly club atmosphere. They are well organised, with clubs taking part in the league encouraged to take on marshalling and timekeeping duties at one event per season. The league is made up of 6 rounds with your best scores from 3 events counting towards the final results.
Whilst cross country is seen as an event for just fast runners, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a team game and very inclusive. The idea is to get as many runners in our team as possible. Yes, it helps to have fast runners, but it’s just as important to have mid-packers and tail-enders. It’s a numbers game. For each race we need a bare minimum of: 8 men (including 2 vets) and 4 ladies (including 1 vet). There is also a mixed team event consisting of 7 men (including 2 vets) and 2 ladies (including 1 vet).
Unlike other races, the results of cross country are based on your finishing place, not time. The finish places are added up and the team with the lowest number wins. Even if you don’t finish in the top 8 men or top 4 ladies, you are still helping the team by pushing our competitors down the finishing order. Therefore it is vitally important we put out full teams, but it’s made much easier for everyone if there are greater numbers involved as there is no maximum limit to a team.
The team spirit that has developed over the course of this season is something we are all very proud of. The team event lends itself to developing a good social aspect to racing that a lot of our runners have thrived on. If you thought that all you needed were a pair of trainers to go running, think again. Cross country demands that you bring with you a mug for your post-race hot drink and cake or biscuits for us all to share. We also have runners who bring their own camping chairs, tables and gazebo to provide more comfortable surroundings for pre and post-race chats.
We have witnessed some very good performances this season. Matt Orford, who has managed two wins from two races, Esther Hunt and Joseph Goodwin who have both consistently finished in the top 10 have been stand out individual performers. Collectively we have all shown great improvement as the season has gone on, something that has put Lichfield Running Club in the mix for trophies that will be decided at the last event of the season at Sinai Park, Burton on 8th March.
So, if you want to try something different (and it will be different), give it a go. The season runs from October to March. Races are all off road, between 5 to 6 miles long and cost £5-6. The events are properly marshalled and courses are always well marked out. There is a good team spirit going and it will definitely help improve your fitness over the winter months, regardless of running ability.