Cross Country Season is here – and it’s not just for kids!

For some, cool fall weather calls for crawling indoors and curling up under a blanket. For others, it takes us back to youthful mornings spent running around the school, field or other landmark, at the start of cross-country season.

Yes, running cross-country is one of the best ways to warm up on a chilly day. And it’s not just for students.

Excellent proof of that is the Jim Howe Memorial Races, which Run Ottawa hosts every year in honour of one of its founding members, whose favourite running season was fall. “The wetter and colder and snowier, the better it was,” recalls his son Peter Howe.

Though hopefully there won’t be any snow on the ground, this course takes runners off the road and onto the pathways where your shoes are likely to get muddier than usual. It’s a race that gives runners an opportunity to compete against a backdrop of changing leaves on the Rideau River and feel the cool air waking up the lungs.

It’s not just your average runner who recalls cross-country as a formative part of their running lives. Last year when we spoke to several elites about the sport, Rob Watson told us that cross-country “was [his] first taste of running,” while Eric Gillis could vividly recall his years on the cross-country team.

“My favourite memory is of my first XC season back in seventh grade, getting to eat fast food with a bus full of my teammates after an away meet. I’ll never forget how cool that was,” said Gillis.

Recognizing that “Track” is a formative part of many young people’s love for running, Run Ottawa has partnered with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club to host the Capital XC Challenge alongside the Jim Howe Memorial Races. This challenge gives young athletes at the elementary, high school and post-secondary level an opportunity to meet fellow runners, take part in a fun competition among peers, and create their own XC memories. (There is already an internal-competition forming among cross-country ski teams at the university level!)

This year, the Jim Howe Memorial Races will take place on Saturday, October 14. The competition is open to the public, individuals in university and college, as well as teams. Participants are asked to register before October 12 at 9 p.m.

Competitions for elementary schools will take place on October 14 and high schools will compete on October 13.

To learn more about these races and how you can compete check out the Jim Howe Memorial Races event page.


And remember – clean shoes lose!