Cross Country

All you need to know about Cross country events for athletes and parents.

Age Categories

The following age categories are for this year, 2023. The distances are for Cross country A events.

Year of BirthAge GroupDistances


If you were born in 2016 and are 7 this year or turning 7 before or on 31st Dec 2023 you are Under 8.

You can also run in one age group older, i.e. an athlete born in 2013 can run in an U11 race (in age) but also in an U12 race (out of age).


  • National School XC
  • Mayo XC
  • Connacht XC Championships
  • All-Ireland XC Championships
  • National Juvenile Cross Country Relays

National School XC

Starting September, there are National School XC races.

These races do not use the standard age categories. There are 2 race categories, based on what school class the athlete is in.

  • 3rd & 4th Class
  • 5th & 6th Class

The XC starts with an East Mayo XC event. You can then qualify for the Mayo Schools XC. From there, you can then qualify for the Connacht Schools XC.

  • East Mayo’s XC – 21st September (Mellett’s Hill, Swinford)
  • Mayo Schools XC – 28th September (Belleek, Ballina)
  • Connacht Schools XC – 11th October (Galway)

Mayo XC

The Mayo XC is divided into Mayo XC evens and Mayo XC unevens.

The Evens is due to be held on 1st October at Westport House at 11am and the even age groups are;

  • U8
  • U10
  • U12
  • U14
  • U16
  • U18 & seniors

The Unevens is due to be held on 8th October at Mellett’s Hill, Swinford at 11am and the odd age groups are;

  • U9
  • U11
  • U13
  • U15
  • U17
  • U19 & seniors

The Mayo XC races are not qualifiers for the Connacht XC Championships but you must run in the Mayo XC to be eligible to enter the Connacht XC Championships.

Registration: On the day at the Registration Tent.
Cost: €8 per athlete, €15 for 2 or €20 for 3 or more.
Running Spikes: Allowed

Connacht XC Championships

The Connacht XC Championships are also divided into Evens and Unevens age group race categories.

The Evens is due to be held on the 22nd October.

The Unevens is due to be held on the 5th November.

The Connacht races are qualifiers for the All-Irelands which begin at U11.

The youngest an athlete can participate in Connachts would be U10, where they race one age group older.

All-Ireland XC Championships

The All-Ireland XC Championships are also divided into Evens and Unevens age group race categories.

The Evens is due to be held on the 19th November.

The Unevens is due to be held on the 3rd December.

You must qualify through the Connacht XC championships to be eligible to enter.

National Juvenile Cross Country Relays

The National Juvenile Cross Country Relays will be held in Abbottstown, Dublin on October 15th.

This is a fun team event. Teams earn points based on their finishing positions. These points are then tallied to decide the gold, silver, and bronze medal winners.

Coaches will select teams for this event in September. If there’s sufficient interest from juvenile athletes and their guardians, transport to Abbottstown may be arranged.

Age CategoryDistance
U114 x 500m
U134 x 500m
U154 x 1000m

Juvenile Handbook

All the information above can be found in the latest Athletic Ireland Juvenile Competition Handbook that is updated each year. The handbook for 2023 can be found here and contains all the information you need to know about the rules and conditions with Juvenile competitions in Ireland.

New to Cross Country?

Cross country events are quite different to track events. Being prepared and ready for action will make your day so much better.

  1. Know where you’re going!
    • Make sure to double-check the location
  2. Arrive early
    • It can take time to park, and more time again to walk from the carpark to where the races are taking place. So, if first races are on at 12, aim to be there for 10:45.
    • All athletes need a number to race; the coaches will have collected the numbers and will distribute them from base camp.
    • The base camp will be a Swinford AC tent in an area designated for clubs.
  3. Stay Warm and Dry
    • Parents and kids alike should wear warm clothes, wellies and bring extra socks!
    • It can get muddy but even if it’s not; cold and damp can seep from the ground up.
  4. Bring The Right Gear
    • The Warm-up
      • We’d recommend running tights, a light long-sleeved top that can be worn over a singlet, hat, gloves, and runners (not race spikes).
      • Base layers are great for stopping the chill getting to your bones!
    • The Race
      • Essential race gear are shorts, club singlet, socks and a pair of spikes with 9mm+ spikes
      • It can be cold waiting at the start; so an old jumper that can be worn to the start is not a bad idea.
      • If changing in a field, a towel or some such is a good idea for privacy.
    • Afterwards
      • Bring a complete set of clothes to change into after.
      • Hats, gloves and even arm sleeves can also help keep the chill away!
      • Dry-robes are very handy
    • Handy accessories to pack
      • Baby wipes, safety pins and pliers!
      • Umbrella
      • Bag for muddy/wet clothes
  5. Commit to the day
    • Once your athlete’s race is over, try if you can to hang on for the other races and cheer on your fellow club and county athletes.
  1. Be race rested and fueled
    • Make sure athletes are rested from the night before, and bring energy giving healthy snacks for before the race and then some yummy treats for after. Bring enough treats to share!
  2. Set your expectations correctly!
    • If your son or daughter is the fastest in their school or has done well in counties that is fantastic and you should be proud. BUT these competitions are at another level, there could be 150 kids taking part in a race – and to come 80th – 90th etc is actually a fantastic achievement.
    • So, wherever your kids finish in a race they deserve the same hug, congratulations and respect as if they had won – it is easy enough to stand on the sidelines and cheer, it takes real guts to run in ankle deep mud in wintery conditions.