These events are held on a circuit comprised of single and double-track trails, often with some gravel road sections for passing. Riders compete against each other according to their age and relative ability. Riders complete a set number of laps on the course. They may be individual or mass start events and, depending on the type of start, either the rider with the fastest time or the first rider across the finish line wins.
Cross country races may also be held in team relay format, where each rider on a team completes a set number of laps. Again the winning team can be determined by either the fastest team time, or the team whose rider first crosses the finish line. Chrissy Redden of Campbellville, Ontario, along with National Team riders Adam Coates, Ryder Hesjedal and Roland Green won the Gold Medal in the Team Relay at the 2001 World MTB Championships, and Canada repeated as winners in 2002.
Ontario is home to the Plastiglas Ontario Cup Series.