Southern League Cross Country 2017/18 Season

As our autumn training approaches this means that the 2017/18 cross country season is almost upon us. If you haven’t cleaned your off-road shoes from last season now is the time to start. As an introduction to Southern Cross Country League (SXCL) the following information may be helpful.

The SXCL is a series of 6-7 cross country races aimed at runners of all abilities for 23 Hampshire based running clubs. The race season is from October to March (approximately a race each month). All races are organised by a host club with no race registration or entry fee required. The typical race distance is 5 miles (8km) run on a mixture of trails, woodland paths, parkland, and fields etc. where you can be assured of both hills and on a good day mud! Courses are well marked and marshalled, so no chance of getting lost. Racing in this league is all about friendly competition and making sure every participant enjoys it. Running as part of a team is a most enjoyable experience with the support and encouragement from you team members.

Races are held on a Sunday morning starting at 11:00am. Men and women compete in the same race with the first 5 men and first 3 women from each club scoring points. The scoring is very easy, your finishing position in your gender is the number used. These are added together for top 5 males and top 3 females and the team with the lowest number wins. A point to note is that the non-scorers from each club play a key role for the clubs’ results; by getting ahead of scorers from other clubs enables them to have a higher score than you. Therefore, absolutely every runner counts to the team performance regardless of finish position. HRR has a good track record competing in cross country and hopefully this season we can challenge for top position. It should be noted that HRR has its best results when fielding the biggest team.

After each race the host club provides refreshments (mainly cakes) at minimal cost (£2 max.) whilst results are prepared and presented. Most venues are very family friendly, so whilst you run, friends and family can be enjoying themselves elsewhere in the parks before they cheer you in at the finish and then share the cakes with you.

Rules for SXCL are brief and easy:

(1) All runners must wear a club vest/tee shirt.

(2) The emphasis of this league is to provide the ordinary club member with the opportunity to participate in a series of multi-terrain events. To this extent it excludes runners with a pace of 5:30 minute/mile for men and 6:00 minute/mile for women. This translates to:

5 miles                 27:30 men           30:00 women
10 Km                   34:11 men           37:17 women
10 miles                55:00 men           60:00 women.

Besides being fun, exciting and challenging, cross country running provides excellent strength and threshold training which is beneficial to all runners. The stabilising muscles and tendons around the ankles and knees work harder in response to the uneven surfaces underfoot. Stride length and cadence will also vary. Running uphill, navigating twists and turns will encourage a shorter and quicker stride pattern. Running downhill requires a longer stride length and more active use of the arms for counterbalance. In summary each cross country run will build strength and endurance working over a wide range of speeds, without the damaging effects of the cumulative jarring that results from road training. If you are training for a spring marathon or half marathon ensure you build cross country into your training schedule – you know it makes sense.


Here are the dates to be part of Team HRR for the Southern Cross Country League season.

8th October               Bramley Forest (Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC)
12th November         Queen Elizabeth Country Park (Portsmouth Joggers)
10th December          Bourne Wood (Farnham Runners)
31st December           Lord Wandsworth College (HRR)
21st January               Manor Farm Country Park (Stubbington Green) – Provisional
TBA February            Polecat Valley (Haslemere Borders)


As some of the venues are further afield; members operate informal car sharing to these races and most HRR’s are happy to offer a lift to fellow members. The weekly newsletter and HRR Facebook are used for communications about events. FB is a good forum for members to offer or request a lift to these events.

Your cross country captains Louise Apsey and Ged Ruffle welcome and encourage all members to participate in the Southern Cross Country League series. There is an extra dimension to running as part of a team, come along and experience the outstanding camaraderie first hand.