Frequently Asked Questions: Cross Country

How do I become a certified Official?

There are two things you have to do. First, you have to attend a short (approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour) rules interpretation meeting that are held at various high schools in the spring. You will then be given a rule book and a test to take on your leisure at home. After completing, mailing in and passing this test, you become a certified official in Maryland for cross country and track & field. You will then be able to officiate at any regional or state championship if you so choose.

How is a tie Broken?

Typically each team is made up of 7 runners and only the top five runners places go towards determining the team's total. In a Cross Country meet, a tie is broken by taking the place of the sixth runner for each team in the tie. The runner who finishes lower (fastest time) propels his team ahead of the other teams involved in the tie.

What is a "Partial Team" & how does it impact the scoring of a Cross Country Meet?

"Partial team" - usually called incomplete teams are those that have less than the required number to score (5 in MD). Therefore a team with 5 or 6 runners, while not a full team,is still considered a complete team for scoring, since they have enough runners to fill a complete score. IN the event of a tie with a team that does not have a sixth runner, the team that DOES have a sixth runner wins. If neither does, the fifth runner is used to break the tie.

Should I yell for the runners?

Yelling for runners - Absolutely yes! Any positive encouragement is appreciated. Just don't be surprised if they do not acknowledge you. Most runners are very focused and will not acknowledge (Or sometimes even hear) your yells of encouragement. Others, however, thrive on the screams of the fans along the course. As long as it's positive, have at it.

Do runners ever get lost? What happens when they do?

Runners do occasionally get lost. There may be several reasons for this, but most often it is a result of an incomplete or poor course walk. Generally there is nothing to be done if runners go off course, except try to direct them back to the course. It is the runner's responsibility to know the course before he or she steps to the line. Alert fans can help by yelling to the runners which way to go if they get confused or start to go off course. The key to avoiding this is to do a good course walk prior to the race (see below).

What is a "Course Walk"?

A course walk is literally that - a chance for the competitors and coaches to walk the course and learn as much about it as possible. This is the opportunity for runners to see the whole course so they can make strategic and tactical plans for the race. It also the timewhen runners should be making sure they know where to go so no one takes any wrong turns (or more commonly, fail to make a turn). This part of the race day is as important as any aspect, because a good runner will use this time to plan where and when to make good moves and force competitors to make bad ones. (see tactics in longer races above)

If I know where a Mile Marker is on the course, am I allowed to yell out my son's/daughter's mile splits for them?

If you would like to yell splits to your son or daughter, there is no rule prohibiting that (anymore - yes it USED to be illegal). Liberty HS coaches will generally have someone in place to do that, or may have a reason for not wanting that done, so we advise you to ask the coaches or runners if they want you to do that. The coaches may very well appreciate your help doing that for your runner and others.

If my son gets hurt, can I give them Advil or Tylenol (or any other over the counter drug)? If I give them to the Coaches, can they?

It is against state and most school policies for a student to take any medication, over-the-counter or prescribed, while at a school function unless permission has been granted by an administrator or school nurse beforehand. The same rules apply at meets as in school. The coaches under no circumstances are ever allowed to administer any medications without prior approval. Generally they can help with inhalers, and emergency meds that a student athlete has obtained permission to keep in the emergency medical kit for the team. Any medication that the coach knows about could jeopardize the runners' status. Talk to the coach for alternatives that can help the runner without putting them in jeopardy.

My son's/daughter's grandparents would like to see the team run, what meet is the best one for them to come watch (from a spectator's standpoint)?

Some coaches, parents, and runners have meets they particularly enjoy watching. But some of the most spectator friendly meets include the Run From the Lion's Den, Keyser Invitational, and South Carroll Invitational. These schools have courses that either loop back several times, or are situated in such a way that much of the race can be seen without a lot of moving around.

Who runs first, the Boys or the Girls?

Every meet is different. There is no set standard, and each meet director will choose whatever order of races seems to fit their schedule. Some meets will run JV races before the Varsity, others will combine the JV races, and still others have races spread throughout the day. The size of the meet (and the course), number of competitors, amount of daylight, and coaches' preferences all play a part.

Do all meets run the girls and boys JV Teams at the same time?

Most big meets will run separate races for boys and girls in all divisions. Some smaller meets combine JV races to reduce the amount of time at the meet site, either for convenience, or because daylight is scarce (particularly near the end of the season). Again, every race is different, but most meets will have a plan in place prior to race day, so all teams should have an idea when each race will be run.

If I see someone elbow one of our athletes, who do I complain too? Is that legal?

Spectators who see an illegal act can take their concern to the referee. Unfortunately, very few of these concerns result in any action, since it should be an official that sees the illegal act in order to take any action. Just like fans at a football game who see a pass interference, if the official misses it or fails to make the call, play will continue. However, sometimes alerting an official can help them find areas where infractions occur repeatedly, and may help keep them happening in other races, so feel free to pass along anything you do see. And yes - an elbow that moves a competitor or causes them to break stride is illegal. BUt that is often a judgement call, because elbows touch all day long in cross country races.

Should I be concerned if, after a race, my child throws up?

If you know of your son or daughter vomiting after a race, of course you should be concerned. But that does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong. Talk to your child and/or the coach to find out if this is something that should require attention. Often runners who pour all of their energy into run find that the digestive tract is irritated because of the body's need to shunt blood flow away from there toward the big muscle groups. Vomiting, cramps, and irritable stomachs are very common, and usually are not cause for alarm. But it never hurts to be concerned and make sure that there is not something else at work. Watch for things like blood in the vomit, decrease in consciousness, or lack of sweat- these are signs that there may be a real problem. However, most of the time vomiting after a race is just a sign that a runner put 100% toward the race and left it all (literally) on the course.