Cross Country 5k (19:20)

The morning after running a mile track race, my husband convinced me to do a cross country style race.  He’s into the trail and cross country races, and I’m more into the road races.  It worked out well since with cross country terrain; you can’t compare yourself to anything. If you are running through a giant mud pit, you won’t run as fast as the road.  So I was easily able to throw my expectations right out of the window…

Cross Country Race running

We arrived at the start around 8 am and warmed up. Not surprisingly, I felt tight and sore after racing the evening before. I had no goals and wanted to run.  Something I haven’t been able to do much of since running last week…

Once the race started, I found myself as the third person overall.  I stayed there the entire time. The race was smaller because there were so many races that weekend. My husband and another male were further up front, and I lingered behind.  During the first mile, I felt tired.  The mud allowed me not to worry about pace, and I thought about how beneficial spikes would have been.  I hit the first mile in 6:15 and thought, oh geez if I can maintain this it would be a miracle!

During the second mile, we went into a wooded trail section.  The course was well marked in the woods, but there were a lot of roots. Knowing my track record with falling, I knew it was better to be safe versus sorry and focused on not falling.  Around the halfway point, we went out on extremely muddy and grassy field. It was like running through a swamp.  I preferred the less muddy trails.

I hit the halfway point in 9:45. I knew it was slower than most races I had run, but I didn’t care. It was a hard course; I was tired, and mentally I wasn’t upset.  I saw my husband fly by.  He had taken the lead.

Since the race was out and back in the woods, after the turnaround got crowded.  We headed back into the woods and while it wasn’t a single lane track, it was narrow.  It was great to see other runners working hard, however, at a few points some runners were running side by side, and there was no room for me to run the other direction.  I was pushed a couple of times into actual trees.

I ran the second mile in 6:49.  To give you perspective, that’s much slower than a half marathon paced mile for me.  You have to race the terrain you are given.

The third mile left the woods and did a loop around a large hill.  I had lost track of my husband but saw the second place male about a minute in front of me.  There wasn’t anything interesting during the third mile, and my focus was to finish.  I finished the 3rd mile in 6:11 and ran a 19:20.

When I got to the finish, I noticed my husband was not there.  I knew he had a great race, and I was concerned.  I went over to the car, and he told me a volunteer had directed him the wrong way, and he only ran about 2.5 miles.  It’s a shame because he was having a great race. He ended up running a tempo run and finishing his workout while I cooled down.


I’m happy with my race after running the mile.  I am, however, jaded by the disorganization of the entire race.  While it’s typically the race participants responsibility to know the race course, being told to go a certain direction by a volunteer is unacceptable.  They should have had a lead cyclist.

It was fun to get out and run on terrain I don’t normally get too.  I’m happy with my effort during the race.  I got my fill of college style racing (a mile on the track and cross country).  Eventually, I’ll hit up the roads again.

Questions for you:

Have you ever run a cross country race?

Have you ever been directed the wrong way during a race?


  1. Once, I was running a 5K and found myself going “this is the longest 5K ever!” During this race there were actually a 5K and 10K option. The volunteers just forgot about the 5K option so there was no one to tell us to stop and turn around. It was extremely irritating.

  2. that’s so frustrating! your poor husband. but at least he was able to turn it into a good workout overall. negative into a positive.

  3. It’s so great that you tried something a little different with your running. I don’t think I would ever want to run cross country! It’s disappointing about the mis-management of the course.

  4. Sorry that Tim was routed the wrong way. Sounds like you had fun. I’m impressed – I’m not coordinated enough to run cross country! Great job, especially after running the night before!

  5. i used to run cross country in high school and loved it but havent done since then. thats always my fear though, going the wrong way on a course. i’m never in first place though so its really an unfounded fear but still 🙂

  6. On my last aquathlon 2 weeks ago I’ve done 4 instead of 3 laps so my route was 6.5 instead of 5K =)
    Yes, I was directed to do so by the marshals but should count my laps myself. There were apologies etc. – good thing? I wasn’t the last one at the end!

    1. That’s interesting and sorry to hear they directed you the wrong direction. It sounds like you have a good attitude about it though!

  7. Congratulations on your race and doing another race the day after that track mile!

    It stinks that the volunteer directed Tim the wrong way. I have not been directed the wrong way, but I do think this is a lesson that we can all take if we volunteer at a race. I have been at races where the volunteers would cheer, but in that racing moment, what I really needed was them to direct me which way to go rather than tell me I could do it. I ran one race where I had to stop and ask “Which way?” because there was no directional sign. But it sounds like this was much worse and really cost him his race/placing.

    The race I ran last night was kind of like a cross country/trail course and you are right about racing the conditions and course rather than just by pace! My last mile was slower but it was also a lot of turns, trees, etc. Also sometimes the trail is single track and you get boxed in, so gotta account for that.

  8. Great race you ran,sorry to hear about your husband,it a shame he was running a great race then get pointed to the wrong Direction.,i’ve had that happen too.
    I have run x country course and it a nice change from street.
    HAPPY RUNNING hollie.

  9. aw what a bummer for your husband 🙁 quick quesion–do you guys give words of encouragement to each other during races like this? if you see him pass or do you just keep quiet and try not to mess with his concentration (and vice versa for you) just curious! I think it’s cool you both are so speedy.

  10. I did one cross-country race four or five years ago, and I still remember how challenging it was due to the different terrain, hills, etc. I did some trail running in CO in September, and it really feels like a totally different kind of running.

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