What about a local club XC season?

Even though you always hear about the loneliness of the long distance runner, I have to say that one of my favorite things about running track and cross county (XC) in high school and college was being part of a team. Since I started running with the Fairhaven Runners it’s been great to experience that feeling of being a part of a team again, yet its still not quite the same. While we train together and go to races together, what is missing is the competition with other teams.

 

Having the USATF XC Club Nationals in Spokane this year has got me thinking about how there is very little club competition at the local level in the Puget Sound area in XC. In November we have the Pacific Northwest Association (PNTF) meet and the USATF Regional meet leading up to the Club Nationals in December. But other than that we have to find high school invitational meets that have an open race or college meets that allow open runners. What I would like to find out is if there are other runners, as well as clubs, out there who would be interested in putting together a XC season. If we could get maybe four or five meets and then finish up with the Association, Region and Club National meets we would have a very nice season of XC racing. There are quite a few very active running clubs in this area that could take turns hosting meets.

 

One thing I have noticed is that many adult runners I talk to seem to feel they are too old and/or too slow to run XC. They find the idea of running in a high school, college or championship (whether at the Association, Region or National level) meet too intimidating. But if we had club level meets these runners would be able to see that you don’t have to be school age or an elite in order to run XC.

 

I realize that there would be quite a few logistical issues that would need to be worked out to put this sort of thing together and I definitely haven’t touched on all of them here. But I just wanted to throw this idea out there and see if I can get a dialogue going. I’m sure ideas like this have come up before, hopefully if enough people get to talking about it maybe we can make something happen. Please let me know what you think about this topic and I will try to come back to it in this blog every so often so we can keep the discussion moving along.

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2 Comments

Filed under Clubs, XC

2 responses to “What about a local club XC season?

  1. Rob

    I think this is a great idea. I would submit that if there were 3 meets plus the championship meets that would make a great season. If I were “king for a day” I would have one meet the second half of Sep, and two meets in Oct, leading up to the association and regional meet.

    Of course that does not answer the question of what clubs would put on the meets and where they would be held. Being an unattached Masters 800m runner I don’t really get a vote, but I realize all too well the logistical issues as well as having to come up with the officals to put on the meet.

    Your point above about many people being intimidated by XC is very valid, when you compare the intensity of Track or Cross to the “peoples sport” of road racing it is fairly easy to understand. Just my opinion but I think there are two things that a series of meets could do to promote participation. 1) Have multiple races (similar to how they do it at the PNTF champs), but rather than simply base these off of age, consider basing them off of ability, similar to a HS varsity and JV races. 2) I also think that for something like this to take off, you should look at bringing back the 4K distance. I am old enough that in HS we ran 2 1/2 miles (25 m longer than 4K) and this was/is a great distance for 800/1500m runners to be competitive. As an 800 guy I had no interest in racing 10000m cross in Spokane. If they had had a 4K race I would have made the trip. When the IAAF got rid of the 4K at the world XC champs after 2006 and USATF did the same I think the domino affect it has on the grass roots level of the sport (which is what you are talking about), is that it keeps some people from participating in the sport.

    Potentially, both ideas I mention could be combined into one race, but, it would depend on how it was marketed as to its effectiveness. As a side note I understood why the IAAF got rid of the 4K, the same long distance runner were winning both events so “what’s the point” of doing two races when the short one is not attracting the milers, but again, I don’t think that arguement applies to what you are talking to.

    Thoughts?

    Rob

    • Steve

      Hi Rob
      Thanks for the great comment. I’m with you on prefering the shorter XC races. The Eastside Runners XC Invitational at Lake Sammamish State Park is a 5K and that was a great race. Now if we can just find 2 more clubs to host XC races prior to getting into the Championship races in November we would have a nice little season. Your idea of a separate race for less experienced XC runners is a good one. Perhaps just having a more low key “community race” at each event would provide a good opportunity for people who might be intimidated by the competition in the main races to give XC a try. I will definitely be sure and post any information I hear in regards to expanded XC opportunities.
      Also, since you are a track guy I figure I would mention that I think the same sort of thing could be done for track. We could set up a series of a few meets throught the area during the summer leading up to an association or regional championship and then Club Track Nationals and Masters Track Nationals. My thought for these meets would be that they wouldn’t even have to have all events. There could be a couple sprint and couple distance events that would switch at each of the meets leading up to the champioinship meets.
      Thanks again for your input.
      Steve

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