Column: Cross Country is Far from the Track

Daniela Ramirez and Cristina Lombardo

SDSU+Cross+Country+runners+line+up+prior+to+their+race+at+the+Anteater+Invitational+%28Courtesy+of+SDSU+Athletics%29

SDSU Athletics

SDSU Cross Country runners line up prior to their race at the Anteater Invitational (Courtesy of SDSU Athletics).

by Daniela Ramirez, Staff Writer

When most people hear about cross country, they think of runners going around the track. People believe that the sport is the same as track and field.

“Cross country and track are two completely different sports,” junior Jessica Kain said. 

The Aztecs headed to Mission Bay for the USD invitational on Sep. 17. This was the first race of the season for seniors Paige Comiso and Natalie Regalado, as well as junior Alex Lomeli.  

Running along the Tecolote Shores made for a scenic race on a sunny Friday afternoon. 

The Aztec runners run a four-mile race on a new course every week. Races can be on dirt, grass and even city sidewalks. 

“Cross country is not on a flat surface, and it (has) uneven terrain,” assistant coach Lusitana said. “Conditions are completely different.” 

Although cross country and track both consist of running, the two sports are very different. Track and field has events such as jumps, hurdles and throws. 

Track and field consist of long, short and mid-distance running. Many cross country runners go into track as a long or mid-distance runner. 

“There is distance within track, it isn’t just sprinting,” Lomeli said. “We’re also included in track.”

Cross country is only a long-distance sport and racing distances can vary from two to four miles. There are no other events added within the sport, unlike track and field. 

Team scoring in the two sports is different as well. In cross country, every athlete counts. The top five to seven runners are counted as the number they are placed, first place is one point, while 25th place is 25 points. The team with the lowest combined score wins the meet. 

In track and field, only the top three from each race get counted for that event. When only two teams compete, first place is three points, second place gets two points, and third place gets one point. The team with the most points wins. 

The sport is a team effort, as cross country teams are more dependent on each individual runner as opposed to track and field. 

“Cross country is more team-oriented, the numbers in the race really matter,” junior Lauren Harper said. “Track is more focused on your individual race,”. 

Running in all sports can be physically and mentally challenging. Running for miles can be grueling, especially when you’re alone. 

In track, athletes are surrounded by other runners in close proximity, with fans in the stands as well. Cross country races can take place anywhere. 

“You have the energy from the track, while cross country is more mentally exhausting because you’re alone somewhere,” Kain said. 

Digging deep within an athlete’s mind to find the strength to continue on for four miles is what cross country is all about, making it debatably one of the hardest sports when it comes to having the strength within yourself to keep going. 

Lusitana says it’s not about who’s the fastest but about who can focus when it gets difficult. 

“Cross country is much harder than track,” Lusitana said. 

During the tough times of running, looking for support from each other is very important to the team. Running for miles side by side creates a bond like no other sport. 

“We train six days a week with each other, so we’re a tight group of girls,” Comiso said. 

Women’s cross country placed fourth out of eight teams at the Stump Invitation on Sep 10. The Scarlet and Black will have their next race at Cal State San Marcos on Sep. 25.

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