by Christine Klein
So many paths to choose from! Roads, trails, fields. Ever wonder what the difference is between Cross Country running and trail running?
Most trail runs are just that—variable distances on trails…winding and switching back; up steep grades where everyone (including the speedy leaders) walk. Occasionally, you will go through a field, that leads you to another trail. You could cross a stream or gully. You can go with a group to run but usually, trail runs finish with the focus on the individual runners. Everyone can run their own race. At times, you can see other runners. Other times, you are alone. I love trail running.
I love and adore Cross Country, though. Usually, Cross Country courses are more groomed, so to speak. They are typically 6k (for women), sometimes a 5k (that can be run co-ed), 8k, (10k for men) or a 3 mile (not 5k) course. Championship races are run separately as a men and women’s race. You can run wooded trails in forests but you could also run a whole course just over grassy fields. It could be flat as a pancake with some road involved or it could have a few good hills in it. You are running your own race but you are, oh, so important as a team. You are the sum of the whole. Runners score individually but are tallied as a team. The last, and perhaps the slowest, can make the difference in 3rd place or 4th, 1st or 3rd place. Everyone learns to count on each other to do their part. You cheer each other, you support each other and can laugh and cry as a team, through training, through winning or even losing. You gain so much from the experience of Cross Country. I love Cross Country, for all that.