In the course of my research into women’s distance running, I’ve visited many athletics clubs’ websites.
I am always pleased when I come across a club which celebrates its history. An excellent example is my father’s university club Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds Running Club, known as the Haries, a cross country club, founded in 1890.
My own running club, Holme Pierrepont Running Club, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2022. Like many other clubs, there is little reference to the club’s history on its website apart from its foundation date.
Why don’t running clubs share and publicise their history? Clubs may feel that no-one outside the club would be interested. Committees are focused on the here and now of running their club and there is not a lot of time to think about the past. Members who were involved in the early days may move away or leave the club, taking some of the history with them.
I imagine that many clubs have a collection of old newsletters and memorabilia gathering dust in a loft somewhere and the thought of going through it may be rather daunting.
Social media and family history sites like Ancestry have created opportunities for people to research and share family histories, memories and artefacts in new ways. There is a new and growing interest in the history of sports and leisure activities. For example, the Old Running Results and Pictures Facebook group is for sharing pre-2000 UK local race results and has over 8,000 members with dozens of posts each week.
Dozens of road running clubs, like mine, were set up in the early 1980s at the height of the “marathon boom”. Many of these clubs will have members with interesting stories to tell about the huge growth in the popularity of road running in the 1980s and how their club played a part in it.
Now is a great time to record and share the history of your running club.