Shuffling through the morning mist with six similarly minded lunatics, the previous night’s dew droplets soak through the mesh of your shoes and blanket your foot in a cold film. While the moisture is unwelcome, you relish the alertness brought on by the chill.
Rising over the manicured grass ridge like the riders of Rohan before their descent into Helm’s Deep, you see the multi-colored armies of the battle that awaits you. The sight alone is enough to cause an immediate release of cortisol, but continue you must. As you move into the disordered mass of flailing limbs, you receive everything from friendly greetings to malevolent glances. Dodging several charging individuals, you and your brethren find your place amongst the throng, an almost indistinguishable chalk cell in a row that includes countless others. The serenity that pervaded the field on the far side of the ridge is now gone. In its place is a sea of motion that surrounds you and crashes against the lifeboat that is your team. Together, you will weather the squall.
Abruptly, and with absolute clarity in spite of the mayhem, the commands of the individual in the red jacket shoot straight to your heart. As if a giant magnet has been placed underneath the chalk lines, you and the entirety of the roiling throng come together en masse. Some oppositely charged individuals resist the pull, but they too are eventually reigned in by further barking from the red jacket.
Further barks issue forth, but it is the final four words that move your pulse to the pit of your stomach. The strength of the magnet is increased, causing you and hundreds of others to bend into the same crouched position. Poised on the edge of a cliff, you are certain that falling will bring pain. The only reason to jump is the faintest hope that you might fly for a brief moment on your way down. The risk-averse voice in your head screams at the erroneous nature of this plan, but you refuse to listen. Your entire world is quiet, and you wait for the single crack that will throw you into the pandemonium ahead. YEAH BUDDY! It’s time for Cross Country!
Born from the desire to determine not simply who is the fastest, but who can cross the Earth’s natural terrain the fastest, Cross Country is the original Tough Mudder. As much as competitors may enjoy finishing ahead of one another, a cross country race is just as much of a race against the intricacies of the course as it is a race against other athletes.
Intertwined with the variability in conditions is the other defining feature of cross country: teams. Track meets have teams that compete in disparate events and form a unified whole, but cross country is made of a small band competing in the exact same conditions towards the exact same goal, and it is through that single-minded pursuit that we find the shared experiences that make each fall remarkable.
To all who are prepping for upcoming the cross country season, we wish you the fastest of falls! If you are in need of a new pair of spikes or flats to have you ripping over hill and dale, feel free to peruse the options below.
In addition to our selection of shoes and individual apparel items, we also have a teams department that can provide custom uniforms and warm-ups for your entire team!
Will has been running competitively since high school, and is currently running with the HOKA Aggies, a post-collegiate club here on the central coast of California. With a preference for the humorous and the verbose, he enjoys playing the wordsmith almost as much as his daily runs.