SYA Cross Country

Welcome to SYA’s Youth Cross Country home page. In concert with SYA track & field’s mission, cross-country provides another viable and invigorating sport for our youth and community. 

What Do I Need to Know about the 2021 SYA Cross Country (XC) Season?

SYA Cross Country (XC) is in its 15th year and usually has between 30 and 50 male and female athletes between the ages of 6 and 14.  XC is a different experience from Track and Field.  Our workouts focus on running ‘off the track’ which means we practice (and race) on trails, in the woods, up and down hills and on other ‘off road’ venues.  There are no field events like long jump. 

First and foremost, the program is designed to be fun.  Some runners have a goal to compete in a national race at the end of the season, some use XC to prepare for other sports and others run simply for enjoyment.

The program is run by experienced coaches and numerous parent volunteers (this is where we need your help).  Coaches focus on proper running technique, injury prevention and helping athletes improve their endurance and speed. Each practice starts with extensive warm-ups, drills and stretches designed to keep your runner injury free.  Your runners will be busy from the time they start practice until it concludes.  Parents are welcome (and encouraged) to participate in the warm-ups and the runs.   

Although races are broken down into gender and age divisions, all of our XC athletes train and practice together at the same time and location using the same program and coaches.  Once the coaches get a feel for individual skill levels, athletes will be grouped with others at a similar level.



Our first practice will be on Tuesday, Aug 24 from 5:45 – 7:00 PM at the Walney Visitor Center.  All subsequent weekday practices will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at EC Lawrence Park (at the Walney visitor center) or on the trails at SYA Sports Park.  When we do not have a weekend race, we normally practice on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon at various locations (e.g., Manassas Battlefield or Burke Lake). 



Races are local and normally held during the weekend in the Northern Virginia area.  Depending on each athlete’s success, some may participate in regional races in November and nationals in December.  A tentative race schedule appears below (this is subject to change, but is a good place to start blocking out dates on your calendar).



Race Time


Race Location


September  19


1:30 – 4:00 PM


Van Dyck Park, Fairfax

October 3


1:30 – 4:00 PM


Van Dyck Park, Fairfax

October 9


8:15 – 11:30 AM


Sports Park, Centreville

October 17


1:30 – 4:00 PM


Providence Park, Fairfax

October 23


9:00 -11:30 AM


Ida Lee Park


November 7



Vienna Youth

Nottoway Park, Vienna


How far will my race be?

Youth competitions take place in two-year age divisions and are typically separated by gender.  These age divisions provide young athletes the opportunity to compete with other athletes of similar ability.  The age divisions for competition year 2018 are as follows:

USATF Age Division

Birth Year

Age at the End of the Year (December 31, 2021)


(K = kilometer)

Approximate Distance in Miles


born in or after 2013

ages 8 and under




born in 2011 and 2012

 ages 9 - 10




 born in 2009 and 2010

ages 11 - 12 




 born in 2007 and 2008

ages 13 - 14 




born in 2005 and 2006 

ages 15 - 16 




What Do I Need to Know about SYA Cross Country Practices?

ü Make sure your athlete has a good pair of running shoes and socks.  If shoes are old or inappropriate - your child runs the risk of injury and will not enjoy the season 

o Ensure running shoes fit properly and are tied correctly and securely

ü Most athletes prefer to practice in t-shirts and running shorts

ü Runners are recommended to wear a runners’ watch (it is very helpful in pacing and keeping split times)

ü Headphones and MP3 players are not allowed at practice or during races

ü Athletes should show up for practice on-time and ready to run

ü Practice is action packed – the kids will be busy the whole time

ü We will practice in the rain, wind, snow, heat and cold; except if there are unsafe conditions (lightning, ice, etc.)

o  Bring appropriate weather gear (it will be hot in the summer and it gets cold and wet in the fall)

o Parents, there isn’t shelter at our running facilities, please plan accordingly

ü If you are leaving your athlete alone at practice, please give the coaches a number where you can be reached in case of emergency (e.g., injury, weather, etc.)

ü A coach will stay with each athlete until their ride arrives – please be on time (coaches get hungry too!)

ü Parents, tell the coaches if your child has any medical or behavioral issues

o Bring appropriate medications; e.g., inhalers, Epipen, etc to practice and races

o A coach will carry a medical kit, water and cell phone on all ‘off track’ runs

ü Athletes should arrive hydrated, we will work hard and sweat all season

o Athletes should start drinking water as soon as they get home from school

o Avoid sodas as they will dehydrate your athlete

ü Since many athletes do not eat dinner until after practice, it is a good idea for them to have a healthy snack before practice (avoid heavy foods and full meals)

ü Bring at least 24 oz of water (mark names on water bottles)

ü We often warm-up and run in grassy areas that may have ticks and chiggers

o It is a good idea to check your athletes for ticks and shower soon after each practice and race

o Preventative lotions and sprays can also be used per parental discretion


What can athletes expect to do at each practice?

1.  Upon arrival, athletes will run one lap on their own at a medium warm-up pace

2.  Coaches will lead warm-ups and stretching (~15-20 minutes)

This is key to injury prevention

3.  Coaches will lead running drills (~10-15 minutes)

Focus on form, flexibility and getting muscles warm

4.  Main running event (runs will vary, but usually last 25-35 minutes) and include:

‘Off road’ and ‘road’ runs

Speed and form training on the track

Hill training

5.  Strength Training (~10-15 minutes)

Focus will be on core and isometric work

6. Cool-down (~5 minutes)



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Office Location:
5950 Centreville Crest Lane
Centreville, VA 20121
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 471
Centreville, VA 20122
Phone: (703) 815-3362
Fax: (703) 815-2180