The start of a cross country race may be one of the most intimidating things in sports. This weekend at the NCAA XC Championship in Florida, and U Sports XC championships in Quebec, 200+ runners were jostling for position in the first 200m of the race.
Check this wild video at the start of the women’s 6K at NCAA’s.
— Pierce O'Callaghan (@Pierceathletics) November 20, 2021
The start of a cross-country race is similar to a start of a road race. There will be a mad dash from the starting line, but instead of runners wearing rubber soles, they are wearing metal spikes. Teams are organized into small boxes at the start, based upon their seeding heading into the race.
RT or QT, if you or one of your athletes will be in one of these epic start videos from the 2021 @NCAATrackField Cross Country Championships tomorrow!
Remember: You can watch ALL of the action commercial-free on ESPNU beginning at 10 am ET!pic.twitter.com/PGmJBhzxfh
— USTFCCCA (@USTFCCCA) November 19, 2021
You can’t win the race at the start, but you can certainly lose it – by being in the wrong position or falling. Many runners have said that the tactic is to stay with the main pack, and particularly to stay on your feet.
If you are looking to get into cross country, your first start-line shouldn’t be as large as these races. But at one point or another, you’ll experience a large race and know what to expect.
Be smart about your tactics and avoid getting swallowed up by the craziness. Stride, then settle into your race pace. You’ll soon be passing those who went out too quickly.