Cross Country and Track are two of the most mentally challenging sports out there, but they are very different. Many people think of them as the same sport when in fact, they are both unique in their own distinct ways.

1. Cross Country has one event whereas Track has many

Perhaps the beauty of Track is that it attracts many different kinds of athletes; there are sprinters, jumpers, throwers, and long-distance runners. Together all of these diverse athletes come together to form a team. Cross Country is extremely impressive in its own way, but what makes Track impressive is its ability to include everyone on the athletic spectrum.

2. Cross Country is performed on a course and Track is performed on a 400-meter loop

Although Track may invite many different kinds of athletes to participate, it is always performed on the same 400-meter circle. Obviously, there are some benefits to knowing what to expect each week, but Cross Country has ambiguity. Each week you show up to a course that is always different from the last. Perhaps this week the course will be hilly and grassy, but last week it was rocky and flat. As a Cross Country athlete, you never know what to expect.

3. Cross Country races include many more athletes

In Cross Country, competitors always run against a multitude of people whereas in Track you usually are only competing with 8-9 people at a time. Since Track is made up of 8-9 lanes, many athletes only face these many people at a time, however, there are usually multiple heats(different sections of the same race). In the end, you could be competing with the same amount of people as in Cross Country, but this is a rare occurrence. In Cross Country, there have been times when I have competed against over 300 people all at the same time. Many people fall or trip in each race because there are so many people running in the same direction at the same time.

4. Track involves much more equipment than Cross Country

Although the distances run in Cross Country are much farther, the amount of equipment used in Track is immense. In Cross Country, you just need your racing shoes and jersey, but in Track it is much more expansive depending on the event. If you are a pole-vaulter, you need a ginormous pole used for skyrocketing into the air. If you are a thrower, you need a certain weighted object to throw depending on your event. If you compete in the javelin, you, of course, need a javelin to throw. Needless to say, there is much more equipment involved.

5. Track meets are much longer

Since there are so many more events in Track, the meets can take up to four days. Cross Country is a lot shorter since there is only one race for the women and one race for the men. No matter how long your race is in Cross Country, you will always finish before Track.