Courses are laid out over open or rough terrain. Distances vary based on gender, age and country. Races are started en masse, with teams beginning from their own bullpens. Runners have a few hundred meters to converge from the wide starting line into a narrower path. Courses are marked using tape, cones and/or flags. Runners are responsible for staying within a specified distance of the marked path. Finish lines are placed at the end of long, roped walkways, which keep athletes in single-file order when finishing. Races are scored on a team basis. Points are issued to runners equal to the position they finish. Only the first five runners on a team to finish are awarded points. The team with the lowest score is the winner.
Cross-Country Running is a team sport where competitors run a laid out, 3.1 mile, varied terrain course. The team with the lowest completion time of the course is the winner. Cross-country running draws its origins from a rural race held in early 19th century England. The sport spread to North America and beyond, where it became a popular amateur pursuit. Courses are created in areas of varying terrain, and are contests between teams of runners. Distances of races vary based on a number of factors, including gender, age and country. The outcome of races are decided by issuing points to runners, which equal their finishing position. The team with the lowest cumulative score of their top five runners is the winner.
Cross-country running originated from a race called the Crick Run, which was first held in England in 1837. The sport was introduced in the United States in 1878. Despite its beginnings as a training method for track and field athletes, cross-country running soon became a formalized sport. In 1912 the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) was created to serve as a governing body for many sports, including cross country. The sport was included in the Olympics until it was dropped in 1924. Today cross country is a popular sport in the United States, Canada, Africa and Europe, particularly at the high school and college level.