Anyone who has competed in the 'National' will understand the wonder of this cross country race. Pitching yourself against the best runners in the country, from clubs far and wide. The stampede at the start , the kaleidoscope of club vest colours as far as the eye can see. After my experience of the race I wanted to learn more about the history of this remarkable race. So find results, reports, photos and drawings from each race.
Paper chasing or hare and hounds started in England early in the 19th century. The 'hares' started a few minutes before the hounds and left a trail of paper scraps to be followed by the hounds. Cross-country runners came to be known as harriers, after a small hound used to chase genuine hares. The Crick run from Rugby School in 1837, which is still run annually, is thought to be the start of competitive cross country although there is some evidence that Shrewsbury instituted their run in 1831. In 1867 the Thames Rowing Club organised cross country runs as a means of keeping fit during the winter months and around the country cross-country clubs were formed, the first being Thames Hare and Hounds.
The first so-called 'National' race was held in 1876 in Epping Forest. This race, incidentally, was declared null and void as the competitors had lost their way en route. A number of clubs were invited to compete but only thee London clubs participated.
1883 saw the founding of the National Cross-Country Union in order to control cross-country running under the Laws of the Amateur Athletic Association. The founder of Thames Hares and Hounds, Walter Rye, was the Union's first President. The first national under the auspices of the English Cross-Country Union was held on Saturday, 1st March 1884 in Sutton Coldfield on the Four Oaks Race Course. Previously all races with the exception of the first had been held at Roehampton. It was decided that each of the three associations would take it in turn to host the race.
In 1933 the Union was renamed the English Cross-Country Union (ECCU), this name was deemed more appropriate since the constituent members of the United Kingdom had their own cross-country bodies.
The English Cross Country Union and the Women’s Cross Country and Road Running Association amalgamated in 1992 to form the English Cross Country Association this enabled the development of the cross country running and saw the first combined championships for men and women.
The first Women's race was held at Hoo Park, Luton in February, 1927 and the Junior Girls' in 1932 (Heathfield, Selston) .
All cups are held for a duration of one year.
The 'FRANK WYNNE' Cup is held by the winning team six man team.
The men's individual winner holds 'CHESHAM' Cup. The Chesham cup was donated to the National Cross Country Union by the inhabitants of Chesham and District.
The 'CHARLES OTWAY MEMORIAL CUP' holders will be the team finishing nine runners with the least number of points (excluding the first three teams).
The 'G. FRENCH SHIELD' is held by the winning team four woman team.
The women's individual winner holds 'Wilton Bartleet Cup'.
The Midland Counties Amateur Cross-Country Association was formed 26 September
1879 in response to a surge of interest in cross-country running throughout the
Midlands and the rest of Great Britain; it was later renamed the Midland
Counties Cross-Country Association (MCCCA).
The Championships races in the Midlands began as a challenge between the Birchfield Harriers and the Moseley Harriers, held 15 March 1879, on a course that ran from Handsworth to Sutton Coldfield, in which 23 men participated. After this race, Harry Oliver of the Moseley Harriers suggested the creation of an Association of affiliated clubs drawn from the Birmingham area. 49 men from four Clubs took part in the second Championship race in 1880.
The Northern Cross-Country Association (NCCA) was founded in 1882. It was originally confined to the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire. The management was vested in a committee comprising one representative of each associated club for ordinary meetings, and two representatives for general meetings. Each associated club paid an annual subscription and each was held equally liable for any losses incurred in staging the annual championships. The Association's first President, or Chairman, was H. M. Oxley of Cheshire Tally-Ho Harriers. A number of early championships were held at Manchester Racecourse, Salford.
The Southern Counties Cross-Country Association (SCCCA) was established in 1883. T. Shore was the Association's first President, 1883-1889, and D. T. Mason the first Secretary, 1883-1884. The SCCCA was open to county associations and clubs promoting cross-country running in southern England. The Southern District comprised Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex, Wiltshire and part of Essex.
Formed in 1933.
Last Site Update: 17th August 2023