LONG before cinder tracks and spiked shoes were known, our ancestors settled their disputes of superiority in regard to their powers of speed by running across the meadows and plains. It is an interesting fact to note the decline of this longdistance running during the past century, and its revival again, chiefly through the medium of hare and hounds runs, in the larger American universities.
Any one who has enjoyed these runs on brisk fall afternoons, and experienced their invigorating effects, will never avoid an opportunity to take part in this popular out-door sport. The delicate youth who is urged into it by the enthusiasm of the old runners, increases his powers of endurance, gains health and strength, and sees Nature in all her beauty.
The general code of rules governing hare and hounds runs, often called "paper chases," is practically the same in all the larger colleges. Two of the runners, termed hares, start out in ordinary running costume with canvas bags filled with paper cut in pieces an inch square. The paper, or "scent," is scattered profusely along the course, so that it may be easily followed. Five minutes later, the pack of hounds break away, headed by the master of hounds, whose duties are to set the pace and keep the men together. The trail must be followed at all times except where there is water, in which case the runners can go around the stream or ford it, as they choose. The hares run much faster than the hounds, as the former must make up a time allowance of seven minutes; that is, the hares must arrive at the starting-point twelve minutes before the arrival of the first hound, or else they are caught. After the hares have run in a circuitous route, ranging from five to ten miles, they strew a profusion of paper on the ground as the signal for the "break." When the hounds reach this point, they line up, wait awhile for the stragglers, and then break away, racing for home. The first and second hounds in at the finish receive appropriate prizes.
A Hare. - Scattering Scent.
The Hares. - Coming to the Break.
The hares are rarely caught, as many circumstances cause much loss of time by the hounds. Sometimes the wind blows away part of the scent, and the small boys along the route often pick up the bits of paper and lay a false trail. Thus much time may be lost in discovering the true course. The desire for prizes has sometimes caused the hares to lay double trails and resort to other unsportsmanlike means to deceive the hounds; but this fault has been remedied by the passage of a rule which provides that the hares shall receive no prizes.
The ideal course usually lies about a hilly country, through patches of woods, and over fences with numerous water-jumps occurring along the way. These different obstacles lend variety, and the distance is not realized half as much as when one encircles a running track for an hour or so. Many men fail to compete in these runs on the supposition that they are short-winded, and have not the endurance to withstand the effects of a five-mile chase. This is no criterion, for the successful competition of sprinters and short-distance men has proved that all classes of runners can compete with ease and success. The pleasantest features of this sport are the social intercourse, and the feeling that one is not compelled to endure the hardships of a contest; for the race from the "break" usually narrows down to the six fastest men in the pack.
The Hounds. - Taking a Fence.
In the past, college hare and hounds chases have been confined to the fall; but any number of fellows thus inclined can enjoy this sport at any season of the year. Those who are accustomed to the routine work of chest weights and dumb-bells should take part in this out-door exercise, by going out for a five-mile spin twice a week, and, on the return, experience the reaction of a cold shower-bath.
BY DAVID W. FENTON, 2D.
Harvard and Manhattan Cross-Country Teams, 1892.