Press Release14 Feb 2019

Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt offers glimpse of cross country running’s roots


Baton carried by the ‘Gentlemen of the Runs' (© IAAF )

In a fortnight’s time, Thursday 28 February, the ‘IAAF Heritage Cross Country Running Display – 1819 to 2019’ will open in DOKK1, Aarhus’ library and culture centre.

Among the display will be artefacts dating back to the foundation of discipline of cross country running in the early 1800s which have kindly been loaned by Shrewsbury School, Shropshire, England.

Founded in the early 19th century by the boys of Shrewsbury School, the hunt club is where cross country running was born. A paper chase game, which followed a trail of paper laid across country, is first mentioned as having taken place at the school in 1819. The hunt, run on foot across fields, through woods and streams and over the hedges and farm gates of the spectacular Shropshire countryside, is the world’s original extreme sport. Pure mud and sweat!


Laying the trail for the Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt


The first surviving ‘Hound Book’ of the Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt, dating back to 1831, records the runs of the school’s hunt of that year. The most historic of these runs still raced today is the Tucks, a 5km course, the genesis of modern cross county running.

A red clad huntsman captains the hunt and starts each run with the cry of “all hounds who wish to run, run hard, run true and may the Devil take the hindmost”.

Artefacts including the school’s oldest surviving ‘Hound Book’ (1831), a Huntsman’s bugle, and a baton carried by the ‘Gentlemen of the Runs,’ will be on show.

Shrewsbury School - The Birthplace of Cross-Country Running from Shrewsbury School on Vimeo.

The display is open to the public for one-month in the lead-in and until the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Aarhus 2019 takes place in the Danish city on Saturday 30 March.