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What makes them different from middle distance or all-purpose spikes? Back to Previous Page
Whether you're just starting out or you've been racing cross country for years, spikes are an integral part of improving your times. Cross Country spikes offer some definite advantages over Middle, or Long distance spikes. Primarily durability, protection, traction, and often shock absorption. They offer even more of an advantage over Running shoes, for many of the above reasons, but most importantly, Traction. It's very important for even moderately competitive racers to have some kind of cleated track and field footwear for competitions, or risk being at a major disadvantage, especially going uphill!

Durability: Because Cross Country races typically traverse very rough terrain, your spikes will take a far worse beating than during a 5000 meter race on a track. For this reason dedicated Cross Country spikes feature thicker and often firmer Midsoles (the foam part of the spike often seen only in the heel of all purpose spikes) that can stand up to repeated use on tough cross country terrain.

The Upper (the fabric portion of the spike) is also constructed of more substantial material that can withstand the rigors of racing through mud, grass, rocks, gravel, tree roots, and all the other wonderful things often found on a Cross Country course.

The Outsole (or spike plate) which refers to the bottom of the spike, is made of a more durable composite rubber material versus typical track spike construction that features a hard plastic spike plate. This rubber composite (similar to what you would find on a regular running shoe) is more much more durable because it can "bounce back" from impacts with rocks, and roots that can crack hard plastic spike plates.

Protection: Regular middle distance (with a slight heel) spikes are designed for distances ranging from 800 meters to 3000 meters. Long distance spikes are designed for distances over 3000 meters but on a flat, even surface like a rubber or gravel track. They can be as light and thin as they are because the terrain is not demanding in these environments, and the duration is very short. Cross country distance (typically 3K or longer) combines the demands of long distance with the rigors of uneven off-trail terrain, so thicker Midsoles, tougher Outsoles, and sometimes a stiffer forefoot are built into Cross Country spikes to protect your feet.

Shock Absorption: In Cross Country spikes, in addition to the Midsoles being tougher, they're also much thicker and wider through the forefoot. This extra thickness can prevent a lot of foot fatigue and sometimes bruising that can occur without adequate cushioning under the ball of your foot. The extra Midsole width can provide a little extra stability and grip on uneven ground as well.

Traction: In any kind of spike, the actual spikes or "pins" provide the traction, but in Cross Country spikes the Outsole is also lugged the way a regular shoe would be, so you've also got rubber tread with which to grip the ground with. This tread runs the entire length of the spike.