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The Cross Country Experience...

So come autumn the best part of the year starts – from the first weekend of October to mid March is cross-country season.  Any memories of school cross-country - knee-high mud, driving rain, howling wind and numb hands – should be banished from your mind as you embrace the grown-up’s version of the sport.  True, there still is no colder place on Earth than a cross-country field in the middle of winter, however, with enough warm layers (may I bring to your attention the fact that the Club hoodies are very warm and favoured by the cross-country team) and the prospect of a trip to the tea van most situations become bearable and there is always cake as an incentive.

At Great Western Runners we take part in two cross-country leagues – the smaller Gloucester League and the much larger Gwent League.  Anyone can come along and give it a go – just try one race to see how you feel about it and who knows?  You may end up loving it!


All abilities are welcome because whilst there are individual categories in each race, it is ultimately all about the team race.

The Club pays the race entry fees, provides transport to and from the races – cars or minibus depending on numbers – and even has some spikes for you to borrow should you want to give them a try.  All you have to do is sign up (sheets are put up on the Club noticeboard for each race with dates, departure times), turn up, put on a Club vest and run like the wind.

Should you still be wavering, let me leave you with this this excerpt from a Runner’s World article:

“Want to follow in the footsteps of our amazing double London Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah and marathon world record holding Paula Radcliffe?  Then give cross-country a try, it is the training backbone for many of our most successful distance runners.

"I usually take part in cross-country races during the winter to help my preparations for the major championships," says Farah. "Cross-country is a tough discipline as courses can be hilly, muddy or even snow-covered. But it makes you strong and it's a great way to progress your training."

Cross-country courses do not tend to be precise distances or feature mile markers, and this, coupled with the changeable terrain, makes times irrelevant. "This means you can focus on your running and get the sense of exhilaration and freedom from racing through the countryside," says Bud Baldaro, England Athletics national coach mentor for endurance. 

Runners can learn to gauge their effort and pace themselves more effectively and, as they get more competitive, the race skills learnt in cross-country can be readily transferred to other surfaces, it encourages runners to throw away their watches: "You're not worried about what your mile splits are - instead, you're competing against the other runners."

If you have any questions about cross-country mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alternatively come and see one of the committee, or Team Captain John Hargreaves on a Wednesday night.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have and look forward to seeing some new faces on the team this autumn.