3 Reasons you Should Run a Minnesota Cross Country Circuit Race
The Minnesota Cross Country circuit is a series of four fall races hosted by USATF MN. Registered teams compete for points toward year-end awards. Individuals are more than welcome to enter any of the races held October 18, 25, November 8, 15. These 6k races are held on various golf courses and parks around the Twin Cities.
If you have ever been curious about cross country, this is your chance to test the waters. It is a golden opportunity to try something different, and bridge what is likely to be “gap time” in your training or racing plans this fall.
Running Cross Country
If you have never run a cross country race before, you should.
Cross country will always have a special place in my heart. It was a huge and significant part of my formative high school years – back when Snow was rocking the charts with “Informer.”
Little did I know how much running would become part of my day to day life. We raced in the heat, rain, sleet and sometimes snow, because they were never canceled. Wearing anything but your racing singlet and short shorts was frowned upon.
Maybe cross country can help reignite your love for running. At the very least, it is a great change of routine to keep things fresh. Below are a few reasons why you should run one of the Minnesota cross country circuit races this fall.
1. No (or low) Expectations
If you’re new to cross country, you won’t know what to expect, and therefore little pressure to run fast. One of the perks of running a distance you’ve never raced before is that you automatically PR.
Most of these races are 6k, which isn’t a common distance. What’s your 3.7 mile PR? Who knows, but you can find out. Since it’s part of the USATFMN series, there will be serious runners there, but how competitive you are is up to you.
2. It Can Rejuvenate You with Variety
Cross Country is not trail running. Just because you’re off road, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s trail running. For those who are intimidated by the notion or stereotypes of trail running, cross country is a great way to try something different, yet not go totally outside your comfort zone.
These races are either on on a golf course or at a park. It’s “rugged,” but not really. This change in scenery is not only a great way to take in the fall colors, but perhaps the last chance to see grass before the snow.
The changing topography (as well as your surroundings) can breathe much needed excitement back into your training if you’re still suffering from that post marathon hangover.
3. Rest and Strengthen
These are really two reasons combined into one.
Running cross country is a great was to rest your joints, ligaments and leg muscles. Because the races are run on soft surfaces, it’s a great break from the constant pounding of road miles.
On the other hand, those soft surfaces also insist that you use muscles in ways you’re probably not used to. Because of the undulating terrain, you use more core stabilizing muscles. While you’re not going to get ripped because of one or two races, you will probably feel sore in ways you haven’t.
Assuming you didn’t injure yourself, this soreness is a sign your body is adapting to the change. Adaptation is what leads to becoming a stronger runner.
About the USATF Minnesota Cross Country Circuit
The USA Track & Field Minnesota Cross Country Circuit is primarily a team competition, but individuals are encouraged. Registered teams are competing for a plethora of awards (TBD). There are six categories:
- men’s open
- women’s open
- men’s masters
- women’s masters
- men’s grand masters
- women’s grand masters.
Megan Smith, communications chair for USATF Minnesota, says that;
…races are open to anyone, members and non-members [of USATF]. The exception to this is the USATF Open and Masters Championships where you must by a current USATF member and need to be 18 or old to compete in it.
Under 18 compete in the Junior Olympic meet. All ages can compete in open division of the team circuit, while the Masters and Grand Masters divisions require members to be over a certain age.
You must be a current USATF member registered with a club to score for your club in the team circuit. When you signup as an individual, you won’t be scoring for anything other than team YOU.
2014 XC Races
With just three races left this year, find time in your schedule to make it out to one soon. Most only have race day registration, so it can be a very spontaneous thing.
All of them are on a Saturday, and none are before 10 am. You won’t even have to wake up early! It appears participation in the race is free (at least Jack’s Twilight Run), but donations are encouraged.
- October 18 – Challenge at Battle Creek 8K, Battle Creek Regional Park West, Saint Paul
- October 25 – Jack’s Twilight Run, University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course, Falcon Heights
- November 8 – Rocky’s Run, University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course, Falcon Heights
- November 15 – USATF Minnesota Association Open & Masters Cross Country Championship, French Regional Park, Plymouth
For more information about the MN XC circuit, visit the USATF Minnesota Cross Country circuit homepage.
Hopefully you are able to make it to one of these races. If not, find time to run one of the many awesome Twin Cities Trails and enjoy fall running before winter hits.