Cross Country Season

Bring on the Cross Country Season!

You will have noticed that coaches, captains and members have already started talking about the Cross Country Season…talk of gearing your training for different terrain…whether you have cleaned your spikes from last year…and more importantly, who is on cake and biscuit duty for the first event! Amongst all of this, we will shortly be contacting you to ask whether you would like to be registered for the Harrier League or for some of the one-off Cross Country fixtures. But for newer members, below is a short summary to try to explain what the Cross Country season is all about…and to hopefully tempt you to join in.
The North East Harrier League
This is a series of 6 fixtures between September and March for clubs in the North East region. Girls run approximately 4 miles, and men approximately 6. You do not have to run all races but the club enter (and pay for) any runner who would like to run in at least one of the harrier league fixtures. You get one race number at the start and need to keep it for the whole season.
There are some quite complicated rules but essentially, the races are handicapped with a ‘slow’ pack going off first, followed by a ‘medium’ pack and a ‘fast’ pack. If it is your first race, you automatically start in the slow pack and there are opportunities for promotion depending on where you finish. The Harrier League keep an up to date online list of who is in which pack as the season progresses and this is how you will know if you have been promoted. The club gets points based on where their top runners finish and that is how the position in the league is worked out throughout the season. A full list of fixtures and a full list of rules can be found at The club always try to circulate dates, start times, travel arrangements etc nearer the time.
Although there are only 6 fixtures in the Harrier League – you will see 7 fixtures listed on the website. One is the Sherman Cup which is a slightly different format (flat start, doesn’t count towards the league etc) but I’ve included it here as my understanding is that your Harrier League entry and number also applies here.
Other Cross Country Fixtures
Alongside the Harrier League there are other XC fixtures throughout the season. These are entered as one off races and are often a flat start with all runners together. Don’t be suprised if they are also a little longer than the Harrier League races – with girls often running about 6 miles, and men running about 8. They include:
The North Eastern XC Champs – Sedgefield 12th December 2015
The Northern XC Champs – Blackburn January 30th 2016
The National XC Champs – Donnington Park 27th Feb 2016
I’m sure it will be decided at the AGM (so don’t hold me to this!), but in the past, the club has paid half of the cost to enter, with individual members paying the other half. For the fixtures outside of the region (the northerns and the nationals), people often get together to organise travel and sometimes accomodation if an overnight stay is needed.
Don’t be suprised if you find yourself on the start line with Alistair Brownlee, Alyson Dixonand some seriously fast club runners! These are stacked events, qualifier or selection events for other international events, but also great mass start events for clubs around the country and Satwell is always proud to have a team out! This is one of the things that makes them really special.
Final messages

The boring thing first but please read all email information about XC carefully. Captains will shortly be getting in touch to ask for registrations for the Harrier League. Information about other one-off fixtures will come separately – please don’t assume because you have registered for one you are registered for everything. Also I know accomodation and travel is sometimes organsied by seperate people and again – sometimes people have assumed because they have asked for a spot on the bus, they are actually registered to race. We will try to make the process as smooth as possible and give clear information.
Also, look out for messages about XC training throughout the winter. Keith and others kindly often put on extra sessions on a Saturday morning and they are well worth trying to get to.
Talk to others at the club about it. If like me, your memories of XC were of being about 11 standing in a freezing school field, then don’t be put off. It’s a great way to add a different type of running to your training, will help your strength, speed and racing for any distance and a great way to get to know others in the club. People will offer to let you try spikes before you buy, share lifts to far flung fixtures etc. Some of our members have been doing XC for a VERY LONG TIME (ha ha!) so chat to them about it…they have great experience to share.
And finally, don’t ever think you won’t be a ‘counter’ or there are better or faster people., Saltwell are proudest when they get full teams out of enthusiastic runners for each fixture…it’s as simple as that.
See you on the muddy start line!