Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies, Behavioral Studies



Major Advisor

Linda M. Petlichkoff


In cross country, women compete over shorter distances than men with little justification for these differences. The purpose of this study was to assess gender differences for the spread of finishing times and examine the appropriateness of shorter competition distances for females. Forty-six cross country national championship data sets (nmales = 10,788; nfemales = 10,884) from the NCAA (1999-2011) and NAIA (2005-2011) were utilized for analyses. Several measures of variation were computed to assess spread of finishing times data (i.e., Coefficient of Variation [CV]; Interpercentile Ranges [IR], and Rates of Separation [RS; IR divided by the distance of the race]). Independent t-tests revealed significant gender differences on all three measures of variations. Males and females differed on CV (Mmales = 3.93, SD = 1.04; Mfemales = 4.84, SD = 1.05, p < .001), as well as each percentile range for IR and RS. Specifically, males and females differed on IR for NCAA Division I, IR5th-95th (Mmales = 194.32; Mfemales = 167.93, p < .001), IR10th-90th (Mmales = 146.66; Mfemales = 127.51, p < .001), and Division II, IR10th-90th (Mmales = 237.32; Mfemales = 203.37, p = .001). Males and females also differed on all RSs for all four levels of competition. For women, a race distance at 68.6% of the distance of the men could generate equivalent variations between genders. Finish times for women’s races were more spread out than for men’s races when adjusted for distance and time. The spread of finishing times may justify shorter distances run by women.