Wednesday, 19 November 2014

In case you missed it... the 2014/15 Cross Country guide

The cross country season is in full swing but if you haven't hit the mud yet there's still plenty of time to get involved whatever your age or ability.

Taking part in cross country races will improve your strength and fitness and help you earn club champ points. It's also good fun (just ask anyone who tackled the water obstacle at the Chiltern League in Keysoe!) and entry to all the races below is free to members.

Cross country captains Graham Smith and Wendy Walsh have been sending regular emails with the details of forthcoming fixtures but if you're confused over which races you can take part in or want to plan ahead, check out this handy guide...
Runners charge up Parliament Hill - the venue for the 2015 National Cross Country


The Chiltern League
Comprises clubs from Herts, Beds and Bucks, open to all abilities. Men and women race separately -approx 6k for women and 8k for men. There’s also junior races earlier in the day where St Albans AC athletes compete for Striders. The juniors, men and women’s scores are all combined to reach our league position. Last year we came fourth out of 14 clubs in division one having been promoted the previous year, and we would love to do well again this year (division one and two compete in the same race and results are calculated afterwards).

Taking part in Chiltern League races will also earn you points towards the Striders Club Championships.

Where & when: Women’s race starts approx 1.15pm, men’s approx 2pm
Saturday 11 October, Watford
Saturday 8 November, Keysoe, Bedford
Saturday 6 December, Luton, Stockwood Park
Saturday 10 January, Milton Keynes, Campbell Park
Saturday 7 February, Milton Keynes, Teardrop Lakes

What to do: We need to declare with the organisers who will be running the night before each race. We’ll send an email and post on the message board the week before each race so please let us know then if you intend to run. On the day, collect a number from captains (Graham Smith for the men and Wendy Walsh for the women). As with the Midweek Road Race League, you must keep this number for the whole league. After racing, you won’t be given a finishing position ticket as results will be recorded by the organisers.

More info:

The Sunday XC League
Slightly lower key league so a good introduction if you have never done cross country before. It’s suitable for all abilities and just like the MWRRL but on off-road courses. Clubs from the local area take part with men and women competing in the same race which is approx 5-6 miles. If you take part in four or more races you will be in with a chance of winning an individual age group prize at the end of the league. Individual trophies are awarded as follows: Senior Men, M40, and M50 - first five places. M60 - first three, M70 - winner. Senior Women, W35, and W45 - first five places. W55 – first three, W65 – winner. Sunday League races do not count towards the Striders club champs.

Where & when: All races start at 10.30am
Sunday 26 October, Broxbourne
Sunday 23 November, Grovelands
Sunday 7 December, Watford
Sunday 11 January, Trent Park
Sunday 15 February, Royston

What to do: You don’t need to wear a number so just turn up and race. At the finish, you’ll be given a ticket with your finishing position on which should be handed to the captains so they can record the results.

More info: There’s no official website for the league but results and pictures will be posted on


The Herts XC Champs returns to St Albans in 2015
Herts County XC
Individual and county medals up for grabs here and the chance to qualify to represent Herts in future races. Approx 8k for women and 12k for men. This year we are hosting the event in Verulamium Park.

As we are hosting this fixture, we also need marshals to help out on the day. If you can volunteer, email Peter Blackaller at marshals at

Where & when: Sunday 4 January 2015, St Albans

What to do: You must have been born in Herts or have been a resident in the county for at least nine months prior to the race to compete. Captains have to enter teams in advance so look out for details on the message board or via email in order to sign up. On the day, collect your number from captains.

More info:

Southern XC Champs
Regional event made up of clubs from the south of England. Approx 8k for women and 15k for men.

Where & when: Saturday 24 January 2015, Stanmer Park, Brighton

What to do: Open to all club members of all abilities but you must be EA registered pre-entered by captains. Look out for posts/emails to sign up nearer the time. The event is chip-timed so you must collect your chip and number from captains on the day.

More info:

The National XC Champs
Prestigious and historic event which clubs across England take part in. Approx 8k for women and 12k for men.

Where & when: Saturday 21 February 2015, Parliament Hill, London

What to do: Open to all club members of all abilities but you must be EA registered pre-entered by captains. The event is chip-timed so you must collect your chip and number from captains on the day.

More info:

The men's team at the 2014 National XC
Vets Champs: There are also a couple of Vets only championship races (age 35/40 and over for women depending on the event and age 40 and over for men) across the season including the Southern Masters Champs on Saturday 13 December at Horspath, Oxford, and Herts County Vet Champs on Sunday 22 March at Trent Park. You must be pre-entered so look out for email/posts nearer the time.

Here’s a list of essentials you will need for cross country racing…

  • Striders vest: You must compete in a club vest for all the above events.
  • Layers: Wrap up warm with hats, gloves and a waterproof jacket before and after the race. Some courses can be exposed to the elements and races will go ahead come wind, rain or shine (only very heavy snowfall has cancelled races in the past).
  • Shoes: Some courses will be suitable for trainers, but if the weather gets wetter and ground gets muddier, trail shoes or spikes are essential. If you only plan to buy one or the other, trail shoes are more flexible as they give good grip in muddy sections but are more comfortable on courses which include harder surfaces such as gravel. Cross country spikes can be bought for around £40 so are well worth having in addition to trail shoes as they give better grip on courses which are entirely grass/mud. Invest in some different length spike pins to insert in them so you can adapt the spike length according to the course (12-15mm best for very muddy courses like Parliament Hill).
  • Pins: For attaching your number.
  • Change of socks: The socks you run in might get wet and there’s nothing worse than travelling home with stinky, damp feet!
  • Wet wipes: Great for wiping all that mud off your legs (and arms and face!). Don’t worry about getting muddy, it’s all part of the fun and it all comes out in the wash!
  • Sense of humour!

If you have any further questions about cross country running or want to find out more, contact xc men’s captain Graham Smith at men at or women’s xc captain Wendy Walsh at ladies at

We hope to see you at the races,
Graham and Wendy, XC captains

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