With less than two weeks to go before the start of the new cross-country season I thought it would be useful to share some information on what to expect from the races, as we are always delighted to welcome newcomers to the sport. There will be plenty of information prior to the first round and throughout the season, but please ask if you have any questions.
When are the events?
There are four rounds in the series. To count for the league you need to complete at least three races. If you complete all four, your best three results will count. The fourth and final round also doubles as the IOM Cross-Country Championships. There is a team element to that one.
In each round the first race will be off at 1pm. Details are as follows:
Sunday 17 October – Round 1, Port-e-Chee Meadow, Douglas, organised by Manx Harriers
Sunday 7 November – Round 2, QE2 School, Peel, organised by Western AC
Sunday 5 December – Round 3, Port-e-Chee Meadow, Douglas, organised by Manx Harriers
Sunday 16 January – Round 4 (including IOM Championships), Crossags, Ramsey (to be confirmed) organised by Northern AC.
What age is cross-country for?
Seven to seventy plus! The age groups are under-nine (minimum age seven on the day of a race), U11, U13, U15, U17, Junior (U20), Senior, and Veteran. A child who reaches their seventh birthday during the season will be able to take part from then on. The veteran’s age groups start at 35 and go up in five-yearly bands. So if you are aged seven or older and have a reasonable level of fitness then come and give it a go!
What are the distances?
Unlike track and many road races, distances in cross-country are more approximate than precise. The four rounds of the league are run on different courses and the distances do vary, though not by too much. The distances for the first round at Port-e-Chee are purposely kept a little shorter for most age categories than for the other rounds to allow competitors a reasonably gentle introduction.
There will also be a Short Course option in each of the four races for the U20, Senior and Veteran age groups, which are suitable for newcomers to cross-country, or sometimes for middle-distance track runners (or even sprinters) who want competitive action during the winter but not over the full distance courses. The Short Course races are usually around 3 to 3.5 kilometres.
The approximate distances for the Port-e-Chee course will be confirmed in the next few days, but are likely to be in the region of 900 metres for under-nine boys and girls, 1,800m for U11 boys and girls, 3,000m for U13 boys and girls, U15 girls and the Short Course. U15 boys and U17 women will race over 3,900m, U17 men, junior/senior/veteran women will do 6,000m, and junior/senior/veteran men 9,000m.
What are the courses like?
We are lucky to currently have three good courses for cross country. The descriptions below are for the full lap – the U9 and U11 races are held over shorter laps which are generally fairly flat. The races are held over multiple laps depending on age group and distance. Full information on the courses will be provided prior to each race by the organising club.
Port-e-Chee Meadow, Douglas – Manx Harriers will be hosting Round 1 and Round 3 at this venue, which has Douglas Rugby Club as the base. Last season saw a return to this venue after many years. The course uses the perimeter of the rugby pitches and also the adjacent agricultural grassland. The course is largely flat fast running with varying underfoot conditions. The perimeter of the rugby pitches was boggy in places after heavy rain last year. There is one ‘up and down’ hill on each long lap.
QE2 School, Peel – Western AC have used this course in recent years. It was also their base for cross-country in the past but on a different course – much of which is now covered with houses! The start and finish of the races is on the school field which is on a gentle incline, then all age groups apart from U9 and U11 go onto the adjacent farmer’s fields to do multiple laps (depending on age group) before returning to finish on the school field. Whilst there are no long hills, there is a lot of up and down and some of the short climbs are quite sharp. There are a couple of low hedges to hop over. The course is usually dry and firm.
Crossags Farm, Ramsey – This is the longest-established of the courses currently used for cross-country and has been used by Northern AC since the 1990s. The lower part of the course is fairly flat apart from a sharp climb through one of the fields followed by a descent. There then follows the longest continuous uphill section on any of the courses – initially though a large field, then up a track through a wooded section, crossing a narrow stream near the top. There is then a fast descent through fields with some sharp turns. After heavy rain this course can be very boggy and sometimes has areas of standing water in the lower fields. It’s a good challenging course!
1 October 2021