Cross-country running Information

Cross country running is a sport in which runners compete to complete a course over open or rough terrain. The courses used at these events may include grass, mud, woodlands, hills, flat ground and water. It is a popular participatory sport, and usually takes place in temperate regions during the autumn and winter when soft conditions underfoot prevail.

Cross country is an organized sport that originated from the Crick Run held nearly every year since 1838 at Rugby School in England. In the early 19th century, cross country was practiced in all private schools in England. In 1851, undergraduates at Exeter College, Oxford organized a foot grind. This was an analogy with steeple chasing on horse where a race would be held towards the nearest church steeple, forcing riders to clear rural obstacles such as hedges, fences, and ditches. A two-mile cross country steeplechase formed part of the Oxford University sports in 1860, but was replaced in 1865 by an event over barriers on a flat field, which became the modern steeplechase in athletics.

In 1868, members of Thames Rowing Club looking for winter exercise formed Thames Hare and Hounds in Roehampton on the south-west fringes of London and adjoining Wimbledon Common on which cross-country races were staged. They were joined by Peckham Hare and Hounds in 1869 , Cheshire Tally Ho Hare and Hounds in 1872, Birchfield Harriers 1877, Cambridge University Hare and Hounds in 1880, and Ranelagh Harriers in 1881. The English Cross Country Union followed in 1883 which introduced the National Championships. Most of these early clubs continue to thrive to this day. The reason for the names associated with hunting is that in many of the early matches, the course was set by paper chasing: a few runners would have a start on the bulk of the field , and lay a 'scent' by scattering a paper trail behind them which the hounds would follow. Racing would take place between the hares and the hounds and within the hounds themselves. Because of the obvious nuisance this can generate, this form of racing was largely discontinued quite early on. Occasional matches still take place, by Cheshire Tally Ho and the popular Hash House Harriers, for example. However, from an early date steeplechases and championship races also took place over fixed courses, as today.

Wikipedia, Cross-country running, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-country_running (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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