Cross Country I Love You by Michael Cunningham

See Sportsworld Running Clubs Cross Country Titles to date here: Cross Country Titles

Cross Country I Love You. Well one of us had to say it. The Cross Country season is fast approaching and there are a lot of new runners in the club who will hopefully be embarking on their first cross country love affair this year. But before the cross country haters pervert their minds some information needs to be passed on.


Michael Cunningham Loving Cross Country

Tell someone you couldn’t do a marathon and they would train every day until they proved you wrong. Tell people cross country is tough and can be hard work and they will instantly believe and agree with you and swear an oath never to do a cross country race, ever.


Some times its hard to understand why people don’t instantly like cross country.

You don’t need a watch as unlike track or road races, time is not important. Road races can blend into a blur but Cross Country races are memorable, the hill in Avondale or the mud bath in Santry are indelible and although there are team events in road races, a Cross Country race is all about the team.

Individual medals in cross country are like hens teeth so most runners are out to get their club a team medal even if it involves passing Usain Bolt on the home straight just to get one more place.


So if teams medals interests you there are 3 regions:

  1. Your county (people born outside Dublin have been known to run for Dublin),
  2. Your province (Munster supporters have been known to run in Leinster cross country races) and finally
  3. The Nationals, the big time.


Within each region you have 3 levels (which are not always as they seem):

  1. Novice
  2. Intermediate
  3. Senior

So simply 9 races: the three regions, each with three levels. See fixtures below.

There are also Masters races in each regions  – these are races for those over 35 years old. But you can still race in the other levels. (i.e. compete in both the Dublin Novice and Masters races)

In theory Dublin novice is your starting point and National Senior is your end point with 7 races in between. Dublin novice is a fast 6Km for men and 4Km for Women and National Senior is 12Km endurance for Men and 10Km for Women. Some people prefer the faster shorter races where as others like the longer distance races.

The terrain is never predictable. As the weather, the number of previous races and the Gods decide if there are hills, firm ground or hot showers.


There is a move to get more people into cross country running with the Dublin Novice teams (October 4th 2015) needing minimum 6 runners to make a team with the top 4 scoring. So you need minimum 6 runners for your club to count, if you have 5 you have no team so that is why it can be so important for people to commit to doing races as the rest of the team depends on you showing up.


The scoring is the simple adding up of the positions of everyone on the team, and the top 3 teams are the ones with the lowest team score (1st, 13rd, 25th, 39th would have team score of 78).

Even if you don’t make it on to a the team your position could be ahead of a scoring runner on another team making their team score worse so every team members place counts not just the top 4.


By scoring on a gold winning county team or getting an individual 1st, 2nd or 3rd means you are no longer welcome at that race next year as you are now just too good. You need a Phd to work out what medals rule you out of what races so its best just to concentrate on getting the medals first.


We are going to try and advertise cross country race dates as soon as we have them and get people focused on having full men and womens teams in each of the 9 races. The first race of the season is the Dublin Novice on October 7th 2018 and we will let people know the rest of the dates as soon as we have them which should be at least a month before each race.

You don’t need any special equipment for Cross Country just a pair of spikes and a club singlet. As soon as the closing ceremony takes place at the Tallaght track we will be moving the Saturday morning training to Phoenix park or the ‘Field of dreams’ in Kiltipper.


The training is no tougher then the Saturday track training and some people may even enjoy it more. So if you have any questions about cross country racing the best thing is to try the Saturday morning training and as the Graded track relay race proved the training and races are more enjoyable the more people from the club that take part.

The 2018/19 cross country season could be a seriously successful year for both the men and womens Senior and Masters teams so make sure your name is down on the team list.

The Championship Season

(inc Masters Level*)

  • National Senior (The Inter Clubs)
  • National Intermediate
  • National Novice
  • National Masters
  • Leinster Senior
  • Leinster Intermediate
  • Leinster Novice
  • Leinster Masters
  • Dublin Senior
  • Dublin Intermediate
  • Dublin Novice
  • Dublin Masters

Other races:

  • Inter-Counties Cross Country (Athletes selected by their county board).
  • Autumn Open Cross Country (The Autumn Open was formally the Gerry Farnan XC. It’s a season opener that anyone can enter – all the other races above are only open to Athletics Ireland club runners and teams are entered via your club secretary.

* Masters Level is over 35 years old. But you can still race in the other levels.
(i.e. compete in both the Dublin Novice and Masters races)



See Sportsworld Running Clubs Cross Country Titles to date here: Cross Country Titles