Cross Country

Fellow Whippets,
I am reaching out because of a great opportunity for us, as a team, to compete at events different from our traditional road races – cross country! For those who have run cross country, for those looking to understand cross country a little more and for some training tips on how to train and race cross country, this article will be very useful:

Some of you may have run cross country back in high school and can think back to the fond memories on those road trips to big invitationals – everyone piled in a van or on a bus, chatting the whole way out about everything from your favorite band/ artist while blaring the radio (definitely aging myself on that one…) to school gossip. During the warm-up, the whole team runs together on the course, planning your race strategy: how to approach the hill, when to make the big push for home. The exhilaration of heading to start line as one big unit and the pre-race chant getting everyone excited. The drive back included war stories about who you passed, how that hill sucked, how you outkicked that kid at the end. And, most importantly, how the team scored. Finally being able to beat that rival team you have been gunning for all season; placing higher than you did as a team last year.

Some of you may never have heard of – let alone run – cross country before. And that’s OK! There is plenty of time to give it a try. Admittedly, cross country running is different than road running as it can be more challenging than the smooth surface of the road but there is plenty of time to practice. For longer stretches of off-road running, local options include the bridle path in Central Park, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Cunningham Park in Queens and Latourette and Clove Lakes Parks in Staten Island. For those outside the city, other options include your local golf courses, rail trails and state parks – Rockefeller is amazing. However, you can simply start by running on some grass fields in your neighborhood park so your feet, ankles and lower legs can become accustomed to running on a different surface. Even if you have zero interest in running cross country, I suggest running on alternate surfaces. You’ll be amazed at how much easier the roads feel afterward.There are two marquee events coming up in which we are trying to increase our team presence:

1. November 13: USATF-New York XC Championships at Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island—Masters-Cro.aspx

  • Staten Island Athletic Club is hosting two races: 5K and 10K. USATF-New York Championship distance is 10K so you must enter the 10K race; not the 5K
  • Competing for the Whippets in this event requires USATF membership declaring “Dashing Whippets” (Club #06-1219) as your team. USATF yearly membership is $30 and registering for USATF after November 1, 2016 guarantees your membership is good thru 2017. If you not already a USATF member, become a USATF member on November 1 then sign up for the race

2. November 20: NYRR XC Championships at Van Cortlandt Park. Event info can be found at

These two races are included in Ted Corbitt training plan as a way to test your fitness during the plan. Another great perk of running XC races: the start times. The Staten Island race begins at 10am and the NYRR race begins at 11:30am.

Our teams have dominated on the roads this year. Let’s show NYC we can dominate off road as well. If interested in these events or have any questions, Megan Jones, Cassie Wallace, Matt Wong and myself will gladly answer them for you. Hope you will join us in competing in these events. See you at the starting line!
Chris 40

More about Chris Forti

Chris grew up just outside of Boston where he competed at the high school and collegiate level. In Boston, he coached athletes with varying objectives - from youth to high school to adults - and went so far as to marry his favorite athlete. He joined the Whippets in 2013 and is excited to be coaching for this highly motivated group. He works at siggi's yogurt in New York City as a demand planner and can be found playing "catch the red laser dot" with his favorite kitty, post-run. He calls himself "40" because "Forti" is evidently too many typeface characters to handle and can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@chris40runs), and Instagram (@chris40runs)

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