Cross Country to many conjures up horrendous memories from those yesteryear school days, being made to run against your wishes in dreadful conditions that you wouldn’t have wished on your worst enemies and you only ran because you had to and on most occasions in inadequate kit. That is the general reaction I get from many of our club members when approached about the idea of running cross country for the first time, having never run cross country since their school days. I can tell you it’s a much different experience nowadays as those distant memories have been dismissed and our WAC Cross Country team continues to grow and grow, going from strength to strength with some record WAC turn-outs for cross country races and we are now winning trophies and awards which underlines our recent success.
When I took the responsibility in 2017 at the club AGM of running the WAC Cross Country team, there wasn’t a huge amount of initial interest, I realised I had my work cut out to make this a success, but I knew I could make it happen, I knew I could get our members involved and build something special with my enthusiasm and the passion I have for this side of running. So over the course of the following months and years, interest from within our club for cross country really grew with lots of our members deciding to have a go and get involved, entering races and surprising themselves by really enjoying the experience, I don’t believe anyone has said “no, never again”.
I find cross country hugely enjoyable and fulfilling, I have a real excitement for this side of running and for lots of reasons, firstly each race is different, the weather conditions also have a massive impact on the type of race you will run. The choice of footwear you’ll choose is also important, do you go for a spike, a trail shoe or decide to run in flats? Those choices can’t really be made until the day itself, then how will you run the race, which side of the path/trail/track will you take, how will you approach the water crossing, how will you cross a ditch? So much to consider and this is what makes cross country so exciting and exhilarating, you don’t worry about getting dirty, it goes with the territory and that’s what it’s all about. Some of our cross country races are also run on the beach on the Norfolk Coast, a beautiful coastline to run on but one which brings its own set of challenges as these can be of a mixed terrain with loose shingle and sand, dunes, water, uneven ground and strong headwinds.
Our members who run cross country for WAC love it due to the variety of different races there are, the excitement and most importantly the camaraderie between us all at races. In all races you are running as an individual but in many races also as a team, part of the WAC Team which makes it a proper team event, with a tremendous feeling of club togetherness and this makes us stronger as a club, hence our hash tags #TeamWAC and #StrongerTogether. The hash tag #XC_MakesYouStronger refers to the strength building aspect running cross country provides you with and prepares you well, in readiness for those Spring Road Races 5k’s, 10k’s and 5 milers etc in the hope of achieving those allusive PB’s.
The cross-country season is run over a 6-month winter period from October through to March and has grown in popularity not just within our club but also throughout the wider running community. There are many cross country events most weekends during this time both locally and further afield, as well as the EACCL which is a mid-week series run over 10 races throughout the winter at different locations throughout North Suffolk and Norfolk. This particular series of races are Free for all our members to enter and they all usually start around 2.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon.
Full details of all our cross country events/races are on the WAC Club Newsletter which is sent out to members on the 1st of the month, as well as being announced at Monday Night Club and posted regularly onto our WAC Facebook page.
I would strongly recommend that everyone gives cross country a go at least once and I am always delighted to see lots of new faces at the various cross country events over the course of the winter season, everyone is always very welcome to come along.
I have recently completed the England Athletics course “Leader in Running Fitness” and will now be leading dedicated Cross Country Training Sessions, which will be on a Saturday morning.
If you have any questions about cross country or trail running then please don’t hesitate to talk to me on a Monday evening or drop me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Cross Country Captain & WAC Chairman