Josh Falk, Abigail Larson, Mark DeBeliso


The purpose of this study was to identify if there was a relationship between running with a teammate(s), often referred to as packing, during a cross-country race and lower aggregate team times of the top five scoring runners. This study examined packing strategies of Division 1 NCAA female cross-country runners. Packing was defined as any team member running within a second of a teammate at a given checkpoint during the race. All competitors across three women’s races wore chip-timing bibs that recorded each competitor’s time at checkpoints throughout the race. Only teams having five or more runners were included in the analysis. A “packing score %” was calculated for each team by dividing the number of times a runner was within a second of a teammate at a checkpoint in a given interval by the total number of packing opportunities within the interval (PS%). The total scoring team time was then calculated from the finishing time of each team’s top five runners (Team Aggregate Time-TAT). The correlation coefficient between PS% and TAT was r = -0.47 (p < 0.001). While more research is needed to identify how and when packing should be optimally used, empirical findings indicate packing is beneficially associated with team running times.


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