a race on foot, skis, bicycles, or motorcycles or by automobile across a naturally rugged terrain. The cross-country race provides athletic training for individuals and teams. Cross-country is an event in the modern pentathlon and part of the Ready for Labor and Defense training program and the Military Athletic Program of the Armed Forces of the USSR. It fortifies health, strengthens the body, and stimulates all-around physical development.
The first cross-country race to be regarded as a sports competition was held in London in 1867; the Russians held their first race in 1909 (Moscow, distance 5 km). In the USSR the cross-country race is a popular form of athletic competition. Several cross-country races are held annually: the All-Union Trade Union and Komsomol (since 1941), the Pravda International (since 1962; 2 km for women, 5 km for men), the Soviet Republics’, and the USSR Championship (8 and 12–14 km for men, 2 and 3 km for women). Among the international cross-country races held in other countries, the best known are the Cross-country Meet of Nations (since 1903; individual and team competitions for men, 10–15 km) and the Humanité Cross-Country Meet (since 1933; individual and team competitions, 2 km for women, 8–10 km for men). Frequent winners of the international and all-Union cross-country races include S. I. Znamenskii, G. I. Znamenskii, F. K. Vanin, A. A. Pugachevskii, V. P. Kuts, P. G. Bolotnikov, and N. G. Otkalenko.
Bicycle (since 1936), motorcycle (since 1937), and automobile (since 1951) cross-country championships of the USSR, as well as the V. P. Chkalov All-Union Motorcycle Cross-country Race (held in Moscow every winter since 1939), are held annually in the USSR.
V. V. SADOVSKII and N. I. SAMOILOV