Nobby, thanks for saving me from myself !!!!!!!!
Cross Country in NZ is indeed totally different to say the USA. Glorified Road Races on Golf courses was my US College experience.
Cross Country makes you very "strong", particularly with the variation of the countryside and what is underfoot.
If you check some of the stuff I wrote about Jack Foster you may get an idea of what I am saying.
A typical cross country race (or even a run) here would incorporate maybe a Fast start on a smooth grass surface, moving to hills (up and down) and as what one humourous friend said "Lots of side hills to work the ankles" meaning having to run across the slope of a hill, maybe take in some mud (at least ankle deep !), some long grass, heaps of animal excrement and to top it off, half a dozen fences that are at least 4ft high.
If the body does'nt get a workout after that it never will !!!
Our cross country races can be held on a farm that has just had cattle grazing on it maybe hours before.
As a teenager I hated racing over some of our courses, but persisted because all the Coaches said "It will make you strong in the Track season !!"
I noted that "sprained ankles" were not as common as you may think. Ankle ligaments and "stabilising" muscles got excellent workouts and if you did have the misfortune of twisting your ankle it healed very quickly.
Hamstring injuries are virtually unheard of if you train and race over those surfaces.
Pace means nothing over good Cross country. If the country is tough you can't run fast. I remember running 50 mins for a 12k Cross Country which was all very steep hills, not fast I know but then Jack Foster did'nt break 45 minutes on the same course that day and was 'miles' ahead of us.
I still have vivid memories of my first 2 hour run over the Farmland near here. I was so exhausted I went to bed for the afternoon. However, a week later I was "flying", such was the effect.
I believe what it does (apart from the 'strength' factor ) is teaches you to relax and stop "fighting the terrain".
Jack Foster was an artist over rough country, he looked as though he was at one with the land and just (in his words)
All Arthur's athletes ran Cross Country races (extremely well) and if any of you are coming out here for the run on Sept 3rd, make sure you have a run on Cornwall Park in Auckland, that is where for many years the Auckland Cross Country champs were held. It is a public Park but also a fully operational farm.
Hope that helps what Nobby is saying.
"Run to the Top" is an awesome book , but was written with this country in mind. Our running "culture" is totally different to the US, so it is important that that is recognised.
PS : Check out the Jack Foster threads we were doing a few months ago.
The man was the epitome of what Arthur was trying to describe regarding Cross Country.