The John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League
If you've not run cross-country before, it's a good idea to prepare with some appropriate training. Try to include interval training ('reps' or 'efforts') in your weekly routine, preferably off road. If this is new to your club, ask Welsh Athletics or England Athletics if they can find someone to visit your club and give a sample session.
Interval training is a great way to improve your race fitness, and in particular cope with the constant changes in slope and terrain around a varied course, which road runners especially find frustrating.
If you can, try to run off road at least once a week, to develop the skills of running on varied terrain. Most cross-country runners will do a good run at the weekend when they can explore the fields and tracks around their house. Make sure your routes include plenty of slopes and hills, and don't forget that running quickly downhill is as much a skill as running on rough ground. If you suffer from weak ankles ask around for exercises to strengthen them and improve your balance.
While many regulars invest in a pair of running spikes, do try a few races and ask around before committing. Trail shoes may not quite be as good as spikes for pure cross-country running, they are much more versatile and could be a better investment for you. And don't forget to bring a good rain jacket, as you may be out in the elements (checking the course, watching and supporting) for quite a long time.
As you'll have already gathered, while there are plenty of whippets at each match, many runners are mainly there to support their team. Points are gained towards the team according to your position. For seniors, the first 5 home from each club contribute to the 'A' team, but it doesn't end there, because there is plenty of pride in 'B' teams (next 5), 'C' teams, etc. All 5 fixtures count equally towards the league overall, so it is important to get consistent teams out.
For juniors, the first 4 home score for each team, but, again, all 5 fixtures count towards league team medals.
For those whippets who are interested in individual medals, things are slightly different for seniors and juniors. For senior whippets, all 5 fixtures count equally.
For junior whippets, the best 3 points from the first 4 fixtures are added to points in the last fixture, so juniors can miss one of the first 4 fixtures (because of illness, injury, or whatever) without losing the chance to contend for medals at the final fixture.
For a full description of the scoring system, medals awarded, and other rules, please see the page on Rules, Constitution and Awards.