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what is cross country? race day


For those athletes and parents new to Cross Country (XC) running we thought to explain what a typical meet day is comprised of here at Rockford High School.  Given that XC is inclusive to all (no tryouts), there are many newbies and historical non-runner parents who need a quick lesson or two.  We will touch on general logistics, social aspects, and scoring.


Logistics (Meets):

What is the team? The top 7 runners, as determined by coaches, comprise the Varsity group for a given race. Everyone else is considered Junior Varsity or Reserves.  Everyone runs and competes.
Travel - At Rockford, almost every race is attended by both boys and girls.  Travel to the event requires meeting at the High School and riding a bus.  Travel home can be with parents or a returning bus (most races). There are occasions where there are two meets and each boys and girls team is split with travel to both locations.  In these cases, i.e. MSU & Coaching Legends, a small varsity team of boys and girls will ride with parents and coaches who have been solicited to drive the much smaller teams.  Yes, a check out  is expected and required with a coach before departing.  An athlete may leave in most cases after running their race, cooling down, and stretching.

Events (Meets):

Invitationals - These are large to very large meets with a series of races, usually by Division (School size).  Invites are almost always Saturday mornings.  Each meet is a bit different in the number of races but the team activities (including awards) are normally completed by 1pm.  These are much longer affairs with lots of time for socializing around the team tents.  An athlete schedule usually has them arriving at the meet 2 hours before the first race time to acclimate, warm-up, hydrate, and mentally prepare.  After the race, there is a formal cool down run and stretching before they are released.  Parent requirements are tent set-up and tear down, pre/post race food, drinks, and most importantly - supporting your athlete and coaching staff.  Bring folding chairs, umbrellas, shoes that can stand morning dew or rain. There are Reserve races and Varsity races separately.  A typical Invite may have 6 -12 races with one starting every 35 minutes or so beginning at 8am. 

Think of an Invite as a Renaissance festival with tents everywhere, a tent to purchase Race shirts, and long lines for the restrooms. This point cannot be emphasized enough: many meets struggle with enough porta potties and restrooms - events can get overwhelmed (Portage has over 7,500 athletes plus fans) and paper and patience become thin or non-existent.  If you know this in advance, you will stop and do your business before arriving at the meet location or even bring a special roll of your own and hand sanitizer.  $$ almost every Invite requires a parking fee which we will try to note in the calendar entries for each race.

Jamborees - These are multiple team races where all schools run at the same time*.  There are two races - one for boys, then girls.  However, for scoring and points only the top runners (7) are counted and tallied.   Currently, the OK Red Conference holds two jamborees and awards an outright winner of each.  Each is worth 25% of total conference scoring with the final Conference meet worth 50%.  If a school wins one Jamboree and the Conference meet they are the outright winner.

* The host school may determine that their course may not accomodate two very large races.  If this occurs, four races will be run (2 varsity and 2 junior varsity).



Most meets in Michigan are scored the same: low team score wins with 7 runners counting.  A runner's place in a meet equals the number value: 1st place = 1 point.  76th place = 76 points.  The top 5 runner's points in each race are summed and this becomes the team score.  Low score wins.  Places 6 & 7 are used to break ties - if your 6th place runner is ahead of the team you are tied with your team wins.

Medals or trophies are different for every Invitational.  In the Conference, only the final Conference meet awards medals.



XC - Cross Country

PR - Personal Record for a given distance or course for a season

LTPR - Life Time Personal Record for a given distance

5K - Five Kilometers or about 3.1 miles

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