Recommended maximum distance for Cross Country competitions for young athletes

Competition organisers should use these distances as guidelines and ensure that any competition offered provides the appropriate distances and activities for the level of athlete present. This should take into consideration their physical and developmental age.

Recommended guidelines (primary to secondary)

School year Age Age group Recommended
maximum distance
Distance increments
Year 3 7-8 1200m
Year 4 8-9 1600m +400m
Year 5 9-10 2000m +400m
Year 6 10-11 2500m +500m
Year 7 11-12 Under 13’s 3500m +1000m (over 2 years)
Year 8 12-13 3500m
Year 9 13-14 Under 15’s 5000m +1500m (over 2 years)
Year 10 14-15 5000m
Year 11 15-16 Under 17’s 6500m +1500m (over 2 years)
Year 12 16-17 10,000m
Year 12 16-17 Under 18’s 10,000m +3500m (over 2-3 years)
Year 13 17-18 Under 20’s 10,000m
University 18-19 10,000m


Please note that the U13 – U17 age groups differ in terms of school years for Track & Field and Cross Country competitions. This is due to when the age groups change, with Track & Field changing at the end of the competition year and Cross Country (CC) changing at the start of the competition year.

An example of this is: An U13 Track & Field athlete would be a maximum age of 12 years at 31 August for the upper age group, but an U13 CC athlete could be 13 on the 1 September.