What is the difference between cross country and Track and field?

by Jack Joannides


With the introduction of the latest Varsity sport on campus, it’s important to remember that there are a few differences between two seemingly similar activities.

While Cross Country and Track and Field have very similar styles, they have many differences as well. The major difference is the distance they cover.

Cross country runner who are sometimes referred to as harriers, like the dog, travel 2.5 to 7.5 miles at a time, meanwhile track and field consists of running, jumping, and throwing, with the running portion focuses on several different categories such as short distance sprints, long distance runs up to 10,000 meters, and relay races.

For the similarities to consider one aspect would be team dynamics. Both sports have team driven races and individual competitions. However given that track and field holds jumping and throwing activities there is still a great deal of difference.

Harriers run on many different surfaces. Grass and earth, passing through woodlands and open country, and terrains include hills, flat ground and sometimes gravel road, but those competing in track stick to the stadium like runways.

Both men and women of all ages compete in these sports. For competition timeframes, cross country usually takes place during autumn and winter, and runners will still compete in less than favorable weather conditions which includes of rain, sleet, snow and hail, with a wide range of temperatures.

Track and field competes in the springtime and judging by the association the team is underneath, certain weather conditions may be taken into consideration, but runners have to be more mindful of the heat to avoid dehydration. As it is spring now, WCC students can consider joining the Track and Field team now, and wait for fall to take up cross country. This was the question asked to Mike Belfiore the athletics director. Do you know the difference between Cross Country and Track and Field? He replied “Absolutely.  Cross Country is both a team and individual sport where all participants run the same race at a set distance, usually on some sort of trail course. Typically, the men race an 8K and the women race a 6k or 5k race. Track and field is similar in that it is both an individual and team sport but there is far more emphasis on the individual aspects of it. In track there are many sprinting, throwing, jumping distance and relay events that make up the competition. The running events are contested on a 400 meter track and the field events take place in areas within or surrounding a track where there are various fields and jumping pits set up,”(Mike Belfoure). Also he replied when I sent him  did you know our school has a cross country team? He said “Yes, as the Athletic Director it is my job to manage all the sports. We introduced Cross Country in the Fall of 2016. It was the first time WCC offered the sport since the late 1970s,”(Mike Belfiore).

I also interviewed a student at Westchester Community College named Jessica Morelia.The questions that I asked her was do you play any sports for Westchester Community College in general, do you know the difference between Cross Country and Track and Field. She replied. “ No, I currently do not play any sports. No, I did not. However, I would love to learn more about the team and the sport in general. No I did not my guess would be that Cross Country has obstacles, while Track and Field does not,”(Jessica Moreira).

Then I also did an interview with Karim Mcfarlane he is an assistant coach for Track and Field. The only question that I asked him was do you know the difference between Cross Country and Track and field? He said “ Actually I do, cross country you run it on a trail and track you run it on a track. Track and field has multiple events, you have field events, sprint and distance. Cross Country is pretty much distance.

Then the next day I interviewed Mike Nuggent. He is the assistant coach of track and field and Cross Country. I asked him the following questions: Do you know the difference between Cross Country and Track and Field? He replied back to me. Cross Country at the collegiate level would be primarily men running 5 miles and women running 6 kilometers which is 3.75 miles. Each race is basically that distance. So wherever you go on a various meet over the weekend. Obviously you can go over the country and run different places like golf courses, and trails and etc.. it is a lot easier to coach.

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