It is Fitting that in cross-country the team with the least number of points wins. Fitting, because the sport's advocates outdo one another in extolling its Thoreauvian virtues—purity, simplicity, rusticity. One has gone so far (or perhaps it is the world that has gone that far) to call it "an ecological experience". They have a case, as all but one of the color photographs on the following pages show. Comparing times is fruitless. Some courses lead up mountainsides, others are laid out on golf links. Some cannol even be surveyed accurately and are described, for example, as "about four miles." Few specialize in cross-country. It is a fall workout in which half-milers and marathoners alike compete—oops, run companion-ably—in, as another evangelist puts it, "a temporary refuge...which offers both testing and therapy."
Steve Prefontaine leads teammates out of firs by a golf course near Eugene, Ore.
The field in the IC4As streams through New York City's Van Cortlandt Park.
Two runners from Tougaloo (Miss.) College plod along a clay road, while (next page) contestants in a meet at Eastern Montana College splash across a creek 7,000 feet up.
Six-mile course in El Paso winds across meadows of grama shaded by live oaks.
Vermont meets St. Michael's on the fairways of the Burlington Country Club.
Black Hills, stubble, snow form bleak setting for race at Spearfish, S. Dak.
California College Conference meet takes place on sidewalks of Fullerton.
Dartmouth and Northeastern runners toil through a pine wood in Hanover, N.H.