There has been an ongoing debate in Canada about what distance women should run at the university level in cross-country championships. Until six years ago, the distance was 5K. Then it moved to 6K, and in the fall of 2017 it jumped to 8K.

Justyn Knight
Justyn Knight wins NCAA XC. Photo: Michael Scott/Syracuse Athletics

One of the biggest reasons behind this push was to achieve distance equity between the men and women, the hope being that eventually the women’s distance would climb to meet the men at 10K. The reason for 10K as the chosen championship race distance was that at the international level, athletes race 10K. But does 10K need to be the gold standard for university athletes? The NCAA is suggesting not.

Charlotte Prouse
Photo: Mike Mulcahy/University of New Mexico

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Flotrack reports that, “As it is now, almost all regular season races—including conference championships—are contested at 8,000m before moving up to 10,000m for regionals and nationals. With this potential move, the committee seeks to eliminate the discrepancy between regular and post-season races.” This decision would also bridge the gap between distance- and middle-distance-focused programs, creating healthier competition between the two groups.

NCAA Cross-Country Results
Photo: UNM Lobos

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In NCAA Division III programs, the national championship is contested over 8K, whereas the Division II and I championships are run over 10K. The motion being brought forward by the Division I Track and Field and Cross Country Sport Committee would only affect the Division I competition distance. The women race 6K at the Division I championships.

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