What follows is a history of our club, originally assembled for our 125th Anniversary Dinner. Hopefully it gives a good idea of the great many achievements we’ve seen over the years, but it is far from complete. If there are any ex-Haries reading this that have stories from their time with us that they’d like to share, get in contact with the Alumni Officerand we can add yours here!
Many thanks to Mook Attanath, Eliza Cottington, Ben Stevenson, Georgia Tindley and James Jarvis for researching and assembling this history.
The first inaugural meeting of the great Edinburgh University ‘Hare and Hounds’ running club was in 1890. However prior to this there is evidence to show that running was still strong in the capital, with the Edinburgh University Harriers running club existing between 1874-1887.
The ‘Hare and Hounds’ took to the stage with their first major race in 1890 for the University Blue, the most prestigious sports award for University athletes. This saw six runners compete for the club. They began to participate in more and more races as the turn of the century approached. They took part in the Scottish Junior Cross Country Championships in 1891-92 and the first Senior National Cross Country Championships in 1893-94, where the team finished 9th. F W Bruce produced a great run for the Haries to win the Scottish Junior Cross Country Championships in 1894-95 in a field of 146 runners where the team also came an impressive 4th, giving the club their
first big result.
Up until the First World War the Club also had an annual race against Dublin University, and this was seen to be the Haries’ main event of the year, with the home team usually taking the win. However during the War there is little ev idence
of cross country, but it was very likely that it still took place. But from 1920 onwards the club bounces back with even more force. J. Hill Motion was the captain for 1921-22
and showed his strength by winning the Scottish National Cross Country Championships as a junior. This was a great year for the club as they held all three Scottish Individual Cross Country titles: Senior, Junior and Novice. Membership also increased to 80 runners following these great results in 1923. The 1924-25 season saw C. H Johnson take the Scottish Novice Cross Country title. This was then followed by a few years where turnouts remained high but results were not as strong.
The 1930s saw a resurgence of Harie dominance. 1931-32 saw J. K Hewitt win the Scottish Novice Cross Country Championships and the East District title. The Club also retained the Scottish Universities title between 1931-35. Further success was seen with G. A Smith becoming East District champion in 1937 and the club becoming East District team champions for the first time in the same year. The Club’s headquarters were out in Craiglockhart in this period, and many sessions finished there with everyone having long discussions in a large bathtub that could fit over 20 people. But then in 1938 the headquarters moved to the King’s Buildings, when the team also retained the East District Team title with member Morris Carstairs taking the individual win too. The 1938-39 season also saw the first mention of the club’s participation in the Universities Athletic Union Championship (now BUCS) where the Team came an impressive 3rd.
Captain C. C Gardner kept the club going during the war, and Ian Stokoe led by example and provided strong running that helped build a good team for the years that followed. The club began to expand by inviting members of neighbouring clubs to join in their training. This was accompanied in the years that followed the end of the War by many ex-servicemen joining who were keen for exercise to accompany their studies; they were key additions to the team. There was a huge resurgence of the club in the late 1940s with Tom Braid becoming East District Champion 1946-47, the team becoming Scottish University champions and East District champions 1948-49, winning bronze at BUCS 1948-49, East District champions 1949-50, Bronze in the Scottish Cross Country Championships 1949-50 and BUCS champions in this year for the first time. Ron Rowles was a key member during this time period and introduced a Christmas handicap as well as the encouragement he gave to everyone to turn out so there was not just one team competing for the Haries.
Another strong decade of the Club in which they became Scottish Junior Cross Country team champions four times (50/51, 53/54, 54/55, 58/59) and out of the 10 years medalled an amazing nine times (5 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze). They were also East District Champions five seasons straight from 1950-55. Adrian Jackson joined the club and claimed great results across the 1950s. He retained the East District title for three seasons consecutively, 1956/57-1958/59, along with the Scottish Junior Championships he won in 1954/55 and he became the first man from a Scottish University to win BUCS. In the 1958/59 season the Haries won their eleventh successive Scottish Universities Team title and Adrian Jackson was only beaten once this season when he finished 2nd at BUCS. He then graduated in 1959 and was considered to be the greatest member to have competed for the University at this time due to his excellent results. He graduated with course records in five university races (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St Andrews, Belfast and Glasgow) and also held the record for the fastest 2nd stage of the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay.
During this decade it was also noted that the club were known for not just their running but also for their drinking and smoking. One member Winkie Waterston, was reported to take a large draw before the start of races and then hand his cigarette over to his girlfriend right before the gun went off.
A phenomenal decade for the Club and arguably its greatest. Fergus Murray joined the club in 1962 and in his first year became Scottish Cross Country junior champion and led the junior team to the first of three successive Scottish team titles. In the 1963/64 season Murray went on to become the East District champion and BUCS champion, plus the following year he also became Scottish Cross Country champion, which he held for three years straight. Murray’s success continued when he clocked a 48:41 10 mile in 1964 and as a result was selected to compete in the 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics that year. Unfortunately a heavy cold prevented him from reaching his full potential and he finished the race in 22nd. His 3 mile PB of 13:19 and possibly his best performance of his career was finishing 3rd at the Universiade (i.e. world student games) in Budapest in 1965. Furthermore he won the 1966 Scottish Cross Country title barefoot! 1970 saw Murray run in the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games where he finished an incredible 7th in the marathon in a time of 2:15:32.
Alongside Murray’s success the Haries had a very strong team during this decade. This included Alistair Blamire, Roger Young, David Logue, Chris Elson and Gareth Bryan-Jones. The Club became Scottish Cross Country team champions for three seasons straight (66, 67, 68) and East District team champions (65, 66, 68). They also won the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay in 1965 for the first time since its introduction in 1930 and held the title for a further two years. This race was regarded as the biggest distance event in the racing calendar at the time and was the most sought after title.
The Haries also claimed the BUCS (BUSF at the time) championships in 1967. Due to the Club’s great success over the 1960s, between 1965-68 they were considered to be the top distance running club in Scotland, a huge accolade.
|The 1965 Team (L to R: G. Evans, F. Murray, F. Gamwell, C. Elson, R. Young, I. Young, A. Matson and J. Wright)||F. Murray winning the Scottish XC barefoot!|
Alistair Blamire won silver in the Scottish XC championships in 1971. Following this, in the 1972/73 season Andrew McKean won the Scottish XC title for the first time since Fergus Murray won it in 1966. This is the last time a male Harie has won the title.
The 1970s also saw the introduction of a Women’s Captain into what had been a very male dominated club. The first Women’s Captain was Violet Blair. In this decade the women’s team also won their first team medal at BUCS where they took the bronze medal despite three of the counters missing the start of the race due to their last minute toilet trip.
1972 also marked the year of Robin ‘YP’ Thomas’ entrance into the Club, who was to become the renowned ‘character’ we know today. He ran consistently throughout his time as a Harie and represented the club in six successive races of the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay from 1974 to 1979. His stories and abbreviations will withstand the test of time, and we could easily dedicate an entire section to YP’s incredible achievements and commitment to the club. Indeed, Scottish Distance Running History has done exactly that.
The club continued to perform highly into the 1980s with great performances by the women’s team in particular. 1982 saw Jean Lorden take the bronze in the Scottish Cross Country Championships and also lead the team home to Gold. In the same season Lorden also took bronze in the East District Championships with the team finishing in second.
There was not as great success for the senior men but the junior team picked up the silver in the Scottish Championships in 1980/81 and East District silver in 1986/87 and 1987/88.
A great extension of the club was also formed in August 1980 by YP along with Bill Blair, Ian Orton and Conrad White. They created a new club known as the Hunters’ Bog Trotters. This began as a club for ex-Harie runners, who wanted to carry on the antics of University running, but has since expanded to a wide range of running fanatics. The club’s relaxed attitude of anti-elitism, inclusiveness, and above all, running for the fun of it has amazingly completely failed to hinder their grand achievements, and some of Scotland’s best runners have been amongst their ranks (many of whom, naturally, also used to be Haries).
Across both the men and women’s teams, junior and senior, the 1990s was a very successful decade for the Club. The introduction of strong youngsters helped a revival of the men’s team. They included Jeff Pyrah, Phil Mowbray and Christian Nicholson. The team finished 1st and 2nd in the Scottish Junior Cross Country Championships in 1992 and
1993 with Mowbray winning both years and Pyrah and Nicholson taking 2nd place respectively. The Junior Team were unbeaten in this event for five years straight (91-96). In 1991 Adam Eyre-Walker took the bronze in the Scottish Senior Cross Country Championships. This was the first Scottish senior Cross Country medal since Andrew McKeans gold in 1973, and is also the last time a male Harie has won one.
The junior women also gained strength in this decade with Haley Parkinson taking silver in 1994 and then gold in 1995 at the Scottish Junior Cross Country Championships. The women’s junior team took the title in both these years. The 1999/00 season saw the introduction of Gillian Palmer to the club who showed a lot of potential with a silver in the East District Championships, which was the first of many medals to come. The senior women also performed well as they gained two Scottish Cross Country titles in this period with bronze in 1992 and silver in 1997. They also picked up the first Harie medal at the Scottish Cross Country relays with bronzes in 1993/94 and 1994/95 and silver in 1996/97.
Another great addition to the Club was James Jarvis who would to go on to become Captain, a great marathon runner and the coach of the current Haries’ squad. He was also awarded the prestigious University Blue in 1993/94 season commending his achievements.
The new millennium marked another great decade for the Club. Gillian Palmer continued to impress and in 2002 she claimed the Scottish Cross Country title making her the first female Harie to do so. In the same season she also became East District Cross Country champion, with Toni MacIntosh finishing 2nd. Gillian followed up her great performance with another when she took 2nd place in 2003 in the Scottish Cross Country Championships. In the 2001/02 season she also helped the women grab second in the National Cross Country relays.
The junior teams continued to perform during this decade. The men’s team took third at the Scottish junior Cross Country Championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and bettered this with 2nd in 2009. They also finished top junior team at the East District Championships in the 03/04 season, and finished 2nd in 06/07 with Michael Gillespie and Oleg Chepelin placing 1st and 2nd respectively. The women’s junior team also gave strong performances with third in 2009 and 2010 at the Scottish Junior Cross Country Championships. These high level performances continued in the East Districts with Hannah Norman finishing 2nd in 2000/01, Eilidh Wardlaw placing 2nd in 01/02 and 3rd 02/03 season, Rowena Bell-Scott becoming East District junior champion in 06/07 with Hannah Edward taking 2nd place behind her.
In 2008 Luke Oliver also claimed bronze in the BUCS marathon championships in London – the Haries first known medal in the event. This was then bettered two years later when Patryk Gierjatowicz finished 2nd.
The past few years have seen a continued advance in the performances by female Haries. Rhona Auckland arrived at the university in 2011 and in her first year she finished 3rd at the Scottish Junior Cross Countr y Championships, 3rd at the Scottish Junior 4km Championships and helped the team take 3rd place at BUCS, along with Emily Stewart and Steph Davis. This was a major upset as Loughborough were knocked out of the medals. Her first year also saw her win her second BUCS medal when she finished 3rd in the 10,000m held in the London Olympic stadium.
The following year Rhona continued to improve and was crowned Scottish University Champion. In the same year she also won the Senior Scottish 4km Cross Country Championships as a junior, and then claimed the Scottish Cross Country junior title to add to her array of great performances. She also then went on to better her 2012 performance in the BUCS 10,000m by winning gold in 2013.
In her 3rd year, (the 2013/14 season), she got her first international vest when she represented Great Britain at the U23 European Championships in Belgrade. She finished 7th and helped the team grab European gold as their 4th counter. Her form continued into the second semester where she took bronze at the BUCS Cross Country in Stirling and followed up three weeks later with the Senior Scottish Cross Country title, aged only 20. Rhona then picked up her second GB vest in the European Cup over 10,000m where she finished 12th. Arguably her greatest performance to date occurred in her final year as she was crowned U23 European Cross Country champion in Bulgaria (December 2014). This is the only known time a Harie has won the prestigious European title. In the same semester she also reclaimed her Scottish Senior 4km title. She is arguably the greatest woman to have competed in Harie vest.
The women’s junior team has also been performing to a very high level in recent years with 2nd place in the Scottish Junior Cross Country Championships in 2011 and 2012, bronze in 2014 and gold in 2015. In the 2014/15 season Steph Pennycook was crowned East District junior champion, with Mhairi MacLennan picking up bronzes in the same event in 2013/1 4 and 2014/15. MacLennan then furthered her success when she picked up silver in the National Junior Cross Country Championships in 2015. The trio of Pennycook, MacLennan and Louise Mercer then went on to make a repeat of the 2011 BUCS performance as they once again upset Loughborough’s medal hopes and took 3rd place in Brighton.
Furthermore, the junior men have also been adding to their medal tally in recent years with 3rd at the Scottish Cross Country Championships in 2014, bronzes at the East District Junior Championships in 2010 and 2014, and the East District Junior title in 2013.
Patryk Gierjatowicz also improved on his 2010 2nd place at the BUCS marathon Championship by taking the gold in 2011. He then repeated this performance with gold in 2013 and 2014.