Sporting Gazette
January 7, 1871

Paperchases


Paperchases

The Sporting Gazette
January 7, 1871.

A little more than two years ago some long distance runners of the L.A.C. and T.R.C. were struck with the idea that it would be practicable to institute paperchases in the Metropolitan district similar to those long in vogue at Rugby, Marlborough and other public schools, and on 17th October 1868 the first open "hare and hounds" ever run took place in the south-west of London from Roehampton under the title of the "Thames Hare and Hounds."

The idea soon spread and paperchases became comparatively common all round London, especially at Hampstead and Hornsey, but for a long while the Thames Hare and Hounds were the only Club instituted solely for paperchasing, the other runs being incidental affairs got up by different cricket or football clubs. While the first club still remains the largest and best, there are now, however, several other Metropolitan clubs, e.g. the Hornsey Harriers and the Mars Harriers, the latter being a very thriving concern, which hunts the Lea Bridge district weekly. These and several other packs are confined to gentlemen, but we are glad to see that the sport is taken up by others, and fortnightly, tradesmen's runs regularly take place from Hampstead and we believe elsewhere.

The advantage of the open air exercise afforded by paperchasing, where the pace is not too great, cannot be over-estimated; but this is not the greatest benefit this sport affords, for the healthy emulation of racing for the bare honour will, we hope, drive away to a great degree the miserable love of pot hunting now, unhappily, so prevalent among athletes.

Some few particulars of the Thames Hare and Hounds, which as we have said before, is the oldest and largest of the London Packs, may be acceptable to our readers, as the subject is one of rapidly increasing importance for there can be little doubt that paperchasing will soon became as favoured a natural sport as football or cricket. The club in question consists of about forty gentlemen, among whom are Messrs. Scott, Green, Donaldson, Michod, F. V. Rainsford, Mason, Rye, J. Buchanan, Ash, Bentley, Fuller, Evans, Dixon, Rogers, Matthews, Hedley, Salisbury, and other well-known amateur runners and walkers of whom the first dozen are decidedly the pick of the basket for working purposes at present. Gilmour, who was long the best man in the pack, is now, unluckily, a non-resident, as is Gibson, another first-class man and strangely enough a third G., Gordon, who has left England to join his regiment in India, Chenery and Burt, two good runners, and capital cross-country jumpers, have unhappily fallen victims to the brutal allurements of football and, consequently, never run now, which is a loss to the Thames Hare and Hounds, as it is rather weak in the jumping line, having but two first rate (Rogers and Bentley) and a couple of fair (Michod and Scott) leapers.

The generality of the pack, indeed, is given to scrambling at fences and jumping in and out of ditches in the most undignified way; but this is probably to be accounted for by the pace, which is generally forced throughout and leave little jumping power in a man's legs. The pace, however, though forced, never approaches what the Rugby boys are credited with in the Crick run, the best ever done with the home lot being nine miles in 62 mins. 45 secs. over a roughish country with once check. The average pace, indeed, including checks, which are often long, is but 7-1/2 an hour. About 10 miles is the average distance covered, the furthest ever run being sixteen miles which, strangely enough, was done quite as fast in proportion as any of the shorter journeys.

A dozen hounds form the average field, though twenty-five, twenty, and nineteen have been known to show up, and the average of late has been fifteen. Ten minutes' law is given and hounds must follow scent, unless they run the hares to sight, in which case the latter may be pursued without reference to the paper. If the hares swim a river, etc., no hound is reckoned as finishing who has not followed them.

The rendezvous of the Club is the King's Head, Roehampton Bottom, which is equidistant from Barnes and Putney Stations on the London and South-Western Line and most runs take place from this house, which affords capital accomodation for dressing, etc. Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park, the Sheens, Kew, Mortlake, Petersham, Ham, Wandsworth, Merton, Malden, Morden and Kingston are all within the home district and afford capital country for runs, though the farmers, as elsewhere, are decidedly adverse to the patteran being laid over their grounds.

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