Sport Spotlight: Cross Country Running 4 Kids in Des Moines

Sport Spotlight: Cross Country Running 4 Kids in Des Moines

Humans have been running since we started walking upright and “foot” races have been around since ancient times. The sport of Cross Country dates back to the turn of the 20th century as an organized Olympic Sport.  Kids are natural runners and can gain several benefits by taking part in an organized Cross Country or running program. There are a few youth running programs and running events offered to a variety of ages and skill levels here in Des Moines.


Running Cross Country is one of the most basic forms of kids’ sports.  Most kids are born with the ability to run. Cross Country running can help a child develop strong mental skills and build an improved sense of discipline towards running, other sports and life in general. Another benefit of running, is that kids don’t necessarily need to participate in a club or youth program to partake in the sport.  More and more marathons and fun runs have begun to add side events for youngsters. Elementary schools are also offering running programs where kids run over recess throughout the school year, then run a final mile in a local race or at a fun celebration at school.


Running Cross Country is a mental game.  Of course, there’s conditioning and endurance involved, but kids need to be able to maintain a positive attitude and visualize each step of the race to the finish.  However they participate, kids need to be able to maintain a high level of fun and enjoyment participating in the sport.  You’ll also want to ensure they are healthy and not participating with injuries and are not over training.

Best For

Cross country running is a physically demanding sport and kids need to be prepared mentally to be able endure and push through some pain and fatigue.  They will also need to realize that while you are running against others, you are constantly working towards beating yourself and improving your own performance. Lastly, kids need to be emotionally prepared to be passed or dig deep and pass other competitors.  With that said, one of the great things about running is that it can be done on your own, with or without participating in competitions.

Time Commitment

Beginners typically have an organized practice once a week, with a greater commitment as your child gets older and becomes more competitive.  The number of competitive events your child will participate in will be up to you and your coaches.


  • Running Shoes (may want more than one pair)
  • Practice Clothes
  • Uniform (may or may not be required)
  • Water Bottle


  • Club Membership: Varies depending on the club.
  • Race Entrance Fees: $10+
  • Travel Expenses: $100-$500 average per event
  • Running Shoes: $50+
  • Practice Clothes: $20+
  • Uniform: $20+
  • Water Bottle: $5+

Fees vary according to what is provided by the organizing entity.  Please keep in mind some fees are one time, others are recurring.  All costs are approximate.  As with any activity, as your child progresses, only your family can choose what you will spend in relation to your child’s specific goals within the sport whether competitively or recreationally.

Cross Country and Running Programs and Resources in Des Moines

There are a few running and track and field clubs in the Des Moines metro area. Schools/Community Education and city parks and recreation departments also offer Cross Country opportunities for youth.  Kids can also compete individually in fun runs.  They are a great way for a child to find out if they enjoy competing in the sport before deciding whether to make a commitment to join a club.

Ankeny Track & Field Club – Ankeny
Capital Striders Running Club – Des Moines
Central Iowa Excalibur Track & Field Club – Des Moines
DCG Track Club – Dallas Center and Grimes
Girls on the Run – Multiple Locations
Iowa Core Elite Track Club – Des Moines
Johnston Running Club – Johnston
Kids Run the Nation – Multiple Locations
Just Run – Multiple Locations
Team J-Hawk Youth Track & Field – Urbandale



What do you think, is Cross Country a fit for your kid?

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