Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cross Country Course Design

It starts with a short section of singletrack.  Just a few turns through some cool terrain.  Then everyone agrees a trail run would be fun, so you build a course with a hand clipper, a weedeater and a chainsaw.  The few sections you've built aren't enough so you take what you've learned and you build more.  Then the parents and the kids and their dogs show up and every nasty thorn, every bit of fossil fuel you burned is worth it.

One thing leads to another and one day you realize you have an opportunity to host a High School Cross Country Meet on the trails you've built.  Having never technically run Cross Country, competed in a Cross Country event, or even seen a Cross Country course, the first thing you do it take to the internet seeking information.  The Race Course itself is a racing events greatest and most crucial asset and as designer you have a certain obligation to the entire past, present, and future of the sport, to create a distinctive, unique, demanding course as well as one that is up to regulation.

In my search for information, I came across this 150 page Masters Thesis on Cross Country Course Design by Audrey B. Lancaster of Utah State.  A very interesting read for Course Designers of any off-road genre'.

In the 2010-2011 manual written by the IAAF, the supreme world-wide governing body for cross country, it states, “There are extreme variations in conditions in which Cross-Country is practiced throughout the world and it is difficult to legislate international standardization of this sport.  It must be accepted that the difference between very successful and unsuccessful events often lies in the natural characteristics of the venue and the abilities of the course designer.”  Indeed.

1 comment:

Ed Coyle said...


I was checking out the old Jack Creek Coyles blog (the pics are all fucked up, maybe from lack of use?)and it had a link to your blog. Forgot about this! Anyway, cool post! Seems like you've been kicking ass. Katie was big into CC in HS and college and her dad was a HS coach for a long time.

Remind me to check this out once in a while, eh!?