Cross country running


​​​​Guideline review date: 28 October 2021​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

This guideline is provided to support schools in implementing the managing risks in school curriculum activities procedure.

The CARA planner must be used for the specific school context in conjunction with this guideline considering additional risks, hazards and controls and including environmental, facility, equipment and student considerations.

For activities beyond the scope of this guideline, complete a CARA record using the CARA generic template.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to student participation in cross country activities as an activity to support curriculum delivery.

For activities conducted at a non-Department of Education venue, and/or when engaging external expertise, request written risk assessment advice and attach it to this CARA record.

For activities conducted off-site, schools must comply with the school excursions procedure.

For activities conducted as part of representative school sport programs, schools should consult with Queensland School Sport.

Risk level

Medium risk
Cross country activities involving running over natural terrain.

Activity requirements

If any requirement cannot be met, the activity must not occur.

If any other safety recommendation cannot be met, modify the activity (or elements of it) and/or identify and use the hierarchy of controls to implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the minimum safety standard.

All risk levels​​​

Competition rules and procedures with additional or more stringent safety requirements must take precedence.

Prior consultation is required with local authority (e.g. local government, police service) for local advice, emergency support mechanisms and additional supervision requirements to ensure participant and public safety, when participating in a public area.



Principals make final supervision decisions for the activity. Sufficient adult supervision must be provided to manage the activity safely (including emergency situations).

For activities with students with a medical condition or disability that may impact on safety during the activity, consultation with parents is required prior to allocating supervision to determine the impact of students' medical condition or disability on safety during the activity.

The number of adult supervisors required to fulfil emergency and supervision roles must consider the nature of the activity, students' ages, abilities and specialised learning, access and/or health needs.

Specific roles for supervisors must include emergency and general supervision roles. Road/water crossings, course hazards and places where participants may go off-course must be directly supervised and controlled.

A course organiser must be appointed to make risk, hazard and safety decisions specific to the course. The course organiser, in consultation with other adult supervisors:

  • must assess weather conditions prior to undertaking the activity
  • must inspect the intended course in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers
  • must suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable (e.g. extreme temperatures, thunderstorms).

Before the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • must be sufficiently located around the course to provide adequate supervision and direction.

During the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be readily identifiable
  • must closely monitor students with health support needs
  • must comply with control measures from the CARA record and adapt as hazards arise
  • must immediately notify the course organiser when emerging risks and hazards cannot be adequately managed.

Supervisor qualifications

Principals make final decisions in determining supervisor capability (competence, relevance and currency) and are responsible for encouraging and enabling school-based activity supervisors to raise their qualifications to improve safety standards.

All adult supervisors must comply with the working with children authority—blue cards procedure and be able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity.

A registered teacher must be appointed to maintain overall responsibility for the activity.

At least one adult supervisor is required to be:

  • a registered teacher with competence (knowledge and skills) in teaching cross country running or
  • an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with accreditation as a level 2 recreational running coach through Athletics Australia or equivalent.

Facilities and equipment

The qualified adult supervisor of the activity, in consultation with the principal, determines the requirements for facilities and equipment appropriate to the local context.

Location must be suitable for the activity being undertaken to ensure safe participation and that safety rules and procedures can be followed.

The intended course must:

  • avoid running on public roads, where possible
  • provide access to emergency vehicles
  • cater for the capability and skill level of participants
  • is well-defined and clearly marked on both sides
  • is clear of obstacles and spectators.

Course hazards must be clearly identified and marked around the course. When courses use public roads and/or shared paths, adhere to pedestrian safety tips.

The starting/staging area must have sufficient space to avoid trips/falls/pushing at start of event, and an adequate straight section to spread the field of athletes.

Participants must wear personal protective equipment appropriate to the activity (e.g. enclosed footwear).

Water must be available at the start and finish area.

Hazards and controls

Further to those listed, include any additional hazards and control measures considering the local context of the activity.

Environmental hazards Control measures
Biological material
Body fluids (e.g. blood, saliva, sweat)

Manage bodily substances (e.g. blood) and open wounds before, during and after the activity. Consult infection control guidelines and Queensland Health’s exclusion periods for infectious conditions poster for hygienic practices and first aid.

Follow appropriate cleaning and hygiene management practices when using shared equipment (departmental staff search 'practical subjects cleaning equipment' in OnePortal).

Environmental conditions

The school's sun safety strategy must be followed.

Follow the managing excessive heat in schools guidelines when participating in very hot or extreme heat conditions. Consider water mist locations in hot weather.

Establish hydration protocols for particpants before during and after the event. Make water available more frequently around the course in conditions of extreme temperature.

Vehicles Closely supervise the course at vehiclular access points.
Facilities and equipment hazards Control measures
Chemicals Follow the line marking of sports fields fact sheet, if line marking is required.
Electricity If power is required, ensure extension leads do not pose a tripping hazard.
Hazardous equipment

Use course markers made from non-injurious material.

Consider alternatives to hammer cap starting pistols (e.g. electronic starting pistol, gas powered horn, whistle, portable PA system).

Starter pistol caps, if used, must be used in accordance with the Explosives Safety Alert issued by the Resources Safety and Health Queensland. That is, the caps must:

  • be carried in a rigid container and never carried loose in pocket or hand
  • be limited to the immediate number required
  • avoid exposure to high temperatures
  • avoid conditions where impact or abrasion may occur.
  • be loaded into the starter pistol only when it is about to be used.

Wear hearing protection when using any starting pistol or air horn.

Student consideration Control measures

Ensure participants are sufficiently spaced at the start to avoid collisions.

Keep non-participants clear of the running course.

Physical exertion
Exhaustion and fatigue

Conduct warm-up/cool-down activities.

Instruct students to proceed at their own pace.

Continually monitor participants for signs of fatigue and exhaustion.

Manage injuries according to established procedures. If in doubt, do not allow students to return to participation after injury until medically cleared.

Student issues

Ensure students have undertaken sufficient training before competing.

Implement procedures (e.g. roll marking mechanisms) to prevent separation from the group when participating off site.</p> </p> 


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Last updated 06 September 2023