The Independent
February 28, 1993

Q&A: Hares, Hounds, and Harriers


Q & A: Hares, Hounds, and Harriers

The Independent (London)
February 28, 1993, Sunday
Sports, page 24

Q: Why do most athletics clubs have the word “Harriers” in their name (apart from a lack of imagination)?

A: When athletics emerged in the 1860s and 1870s, paper chasing became the most popular event after its introduction on Wimbledon Common in 1868 by Thames Hare and Hounds. In a paper chase, two “hares” lay a trail of paper over the country, and the pack of “hounds” try to catch up with them. Although this sport soon developed into cross country as we know it today, the earliest such clubs called themselves “Hare and Hounds” or “Harriers”, and still do.

The Badminton Library volume on athletics (published 1887, revised November 1898) says: “A club devoted to athletics alone had, until paper-chasing came into vogue, little social attraction, as compared with other clubs. The popularity of paper-chasing during the last few years has caused a large number of clubs to spring up throughout the country, which exist to promote paper chasing and cross country racing during the winter, although they hold athletic meetings during the summer season... It is worth mentioning that quite a fourth part of the clubs affiliated to the AAA are Harriers or Hare and Hounds clubs. But if the paper-chasing clubs are put out of the question, it may almost be said that there are no clubs in the true sense of the word which exist purely and solely for the cultivation of running, jumping, and throwing of weights, with the exception of those which are fortunate in possessing running grounds with a cinder track of their own” - Michael Allen, London SW19 (Ex-Hon Secretary Thames Hare and Hounds).

Copyright 1993 Newspaper Publishing PLC

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