FAQs

Much of the information here is also contained in the other pages of the website but what follows should serve as a concise summary of many aspects of CUH&H.

The Basics:

Getting Involved:

Races and Blues:

Socials and Other Stuff:

And Finally…

 

Why is it called the “Hare and Hounds”?

The name dates back to the 19th century and the early days of organized cross-country running in the UK. Races would be run in the following way: one person, “the hare”, would run ahead and leave an indistinct trail of marks for all the other runners, “the hounds”, to follow.

Of course, the vast majority of our races now conform to the more conventional set courses but some clubs do still run events in the old style. The Cheshire Tally Ho, for example, are doing a great job of keeping the tradition alive and each year we try to join them for a genuine hare and hound run.

For more details on the history of CUH&H, click here.

Is CUH&H an exclusively cross-country running club?

No. While cross-country is the main focus of the club especially during the winter (Michaelmas and Lent terms), we take a keen interest in, and cater for, all aspects of running.

Members of the club will compete in all manner of other events during the year, from fell running and crazy mountain races to indoor athletics meets. All can be publicised, reported on and discussed via the website and the email lists.

Road races feature strongly in the calendar. A number of the College League races are on road, as are the Hyde Park Relays in the Lent term. We also have guaranteed places in the London Marathon and a Marathon Squad is formed to train specifically for it.

In the spring and summer, many of our athletes focus on the track and there is a strong collaboration with CUAC, particularly in the run up to the track and field Varsity Match. Indeed the vast majority of the middle and long distance events at this meet will be filled by CUH&H members who are also members of CUAC.

Of course, if competitive running is not your cup of tea, the club also caters for those who just want to run for fitness and therapeutic reasons. There are several easy runs put on during the week specifically for this purpose – check out the beginners’ page for more details. And don’t worry if you like running but not through mud. Just because the main races are cross-country, we still train on all the surfaces available in Cambridge: grass, grit paths, road, track. There is something for everyone.

What’s the deal with CUH&H and CUAC?

CUAC is the Cambridge University Athletics Club. For historical reasons, this is a separate club to CUH&H. However, links between the clubs are very strong and many are members of both. A typical aim for such athletes is to compete well at cross-country for CUH&H in the Michaelmas and Lent terms, and then in middle/long distance events on the track for CUAC in the Easter term. Indeed this conforms to the standard approach to training for distance events used by athletes across the world: concentrate on endurance and strength over the winter and speed-endurance in the spring and summer.

The training groups remain roughly the same in the Easter term, you are simply running for a different club on the track (though still for Cambridge which is the important thing!)

Can I just come along or do I have to join?

Feel free to come and give it a bash. There will always be a friendly face to welcome you, whether you are a member or not. If you want a taste of the full benefits of joining, just browse the rest of this site. It speaks for itself. You will need to join in order to compete for us though.

How can I join?

By filling out our online form, here.

Do I have to be a student to join?

No. Membership is open to everyone affiliated to the University of Cambridge: post-docs, lecturers, fellows and so on are all eligible. However, if you are not a student, there will be restrictions on which races you can compete in. For example you must be a student to compete in the Varsity Match and BUCS. Exceptionally, membership may be extended to people from outside the university but this is at the discretion of the Club Captain.

What do I get for my membership?

You get to be part of what is a very special club full of history and atmosphere. Just browse this website to be convinced. On a practical level, as well has having access to coaching and subsidised physiotherapy the club will pay your entry fees to all the races (provided you run) and subsidise travel expenses and accommodation.

Do you have to be a hard-core runner to join CUH&H?

Absolutely not. Everyone in the University is welcome. There are runs and sessions to cater for all levels: see the section on training for details of what is available. In particular, there are several easy runs put on during the week specifically for beginners and those who just like to run for fitness and relaxation. The route and pace on these runs is such that absolutely no one is dropped. In fact, please do not be put off by any of the sessions. Even in the repetition sessions, we regroup regularly and bigger groups make for a more enjoyable workout.

There are many stories of people taking up running for the first time, with CUH&H, only to find they really love it. Even the most competitive athletes love to run just because it feels good. So, even if you’re not yet a member, come along and give it a try. You will always be welcome.

I am a total beginner, where do I start?

The best place way to get started is to go to one of the ‘EZ’ beginners’ runs. They are specifically for you. Just turn up and get involved. For further details check our the beginners’ pageand the beginners’ training schedule.

Should I wait until I’m fitter?

No. You will not struggle on one of the beginners’ runs. That’s what they’re there for. Attending an organized run, setting off at a particular time, is the best way to stop procrastinating. There will be many others there in the same boat. Besides, running is the way to get fitter. Visit the beginners’ page for more.

Do I have to come to all the sessions?

No. Come to as many as you want. Check out the training schedules to see what you can attend. If you are keen on racing successfully, you are strongly recommended to attend as many of the runs and sessions as possible. The repetition sessions (coloured red on the main schedule) are particularly important.

Is there a club mailing list?

Yes there is. In fact there are four mailing lists, one for club news and training, one for running-related discussions, one for general social chat and one that comes to life each holiday to help those still in Cambridge arrange training events. For more details click here.

How do I find out about the arrangements for training sessions and races?

Training times and venues are posted on the website here and are updated weekly. However, more detailed information about particular sessions, and any last-minute changes, are sent out to the training email list so you are advised to subscribe.

In addition to the main training schedule there is one for beginners’ and, in the lent term, a marathon schedule mainly for those training for The London Marathon.

Similarly the fixtures section contains a lot of information about forthcoming races, but further details, arrangements and requests for interested runners, are all sent out to the email lists.

What are the most important races?

In the Michaelmas term, the cross country “2nds – 4ths” and “Blues” Varsity Matches are the key events. There are other important races for CUH&H in the run up to the Varsity Matches, including the RAF Match, and the “Mob” Match.

The College League takes place over the Michaelmas and Lent terms, and consists of a series of races over various courses in Cambridge. The inter-collegiate championship race is known as “Cuppers” and serves as one of the main selection races for the varsity match teams.

In the Lent term the most important race is the BUCS Cross-Country Championship.

What is a Varsity Match?

A Varsity Match is an annual sporting event between Cambridge University and Oxford University. Each sport will have one: the annual boat race on the Thames is probably the most famous example. Cross-country is no exception.

When and where do the cross country Varsity Matches take place?

There are eight Varsity Match races in total taking place on two separate occasions: “2nds – 4ths” and the “Blues Varsity Match”.

There are 5 men’s teams and 3 ladies’ teams. The men’s 2nds – 4ths and ladies’ 2nds and 3rds take place on the Saturday at the end of the penultimate week of Michaelmas term. The venue alternates between Shotover country park in Oxford and Wandlebury in Cambridge.

The men’s and ladies’ 1st team or “Blues” races are hosted by Thames Hare & Hounds on the Saturday at the end of Michaelmas term. They take place on neutral territory on Wimbledon Common in London.

Who selects the teams for the Varsity Match?

The men’s and ladies’ first (a.k.a. “Blues”) teams are selected by the men’s and ladies’ captains respectively. The remaining teams are selected by the captains in discussion with the rest of the CUH&H committee.

What is Varsity Match team selection based on?

This will vary a bit from year to year but, in general, the key selection race is the inter-collegiate cross-country championship race (a.k.a. “Cuppers”), which takes place around one week before the 2nds – 4ths Varsity Match. Most captains will take into account performances in other races during Michaelmas term.

Will I be too slow to run in a Varsity Match? And might I train hard all Michaelmas term, and still end up not racing in a Varsity Match through not being selected?

No. Everyone will get a race in a Varsity Match team. While there are eight members of each of the men’s 1st – 3rd teams and women’s 1st and 2nds, unlimited numbers are allowed in the men’s 4ths and ladies’ 3rds. Runners of all standards can therefore take part and indeed are encouraged to do so. Of course the more you put into your training, the greater are your chances of being selected for the higher teams.

What is a “full-Blue” and a “half-Blue”?

A “full-Blue” (or just “Blue”) is an award for sporting excellence given at both Cambridge and Oxford.

A “full-Blue” sport is one in which full-Blues can be awarded and there are, at present, only around 12 such sports. The number fluctuates from year to year: there are a small number for which full-Blue status is never questioned, while others have their status reviewed every few years by the Blues committee. Furthermore, within the status of full-Blue, a sport may be restricted on the number of Blues it can award. All the technicalities are not worth worrying about, but if you are interested, visit the Blues Committee website.

Other sports can award half-Blues, although outstanding performances in any sport can be considered for a discretionary Blue by the Blues committee. You can also be awarded a half-Blue in a full-Blue sport if you have performed well but not quite to the standard of a full-Blue. Some sports have hard and fast rules about how Blues are awarded, others are at the discretion of the captain. In general, competing sufficiently well for the first team in the Varsity Match is a necessary condition for a full-Blue.

There is no actual physical award for achieving a Blue (although the ladies sometimes get certificates): it is all about the honour! However you do earn the right to wear various items of Blues clothing like the scarf, tie and rather hideous blazer. Half-Blues get to wear a slightly different tie.

Is cross-country a full-Blue sport, and if so how do I achieve a Blue?

Yes. Men’s athletics and cross-country always has had full-Blue status and, thanks to impressive results in recent years, now ladies’ cross-country also has this status.

To be awarded a Blue you must run in the Blues Varsity Match (that is in the first team race), but the actual award is still at captain’s discretion: you must perform well enough for the captain to feel you deserve a Blue. In some years the entire Blues team will be awarded full-Blues while in other years some runners will be awarded full-Blues and others half-Blues. For the women, at present there is the additional requirement of being one of the four scoring members of the Blues team.

It used to be the case that the award of Blues was based solely on performances in the Varsity Match but in recent times a runner who has achieved a half-Blue in the Varsity Match may have it upgraded to a full-Blue after an excellent performance in the BUCS cross-country championships. This is in recognition both of the importance of the BUCS race and of the fact that there are other universities outside Oxford and Cambridge competing to be the best at cross-country. Again the BUCS-upgrade policy is at captain’s discretion and so may vary from year to year.

What is BUCS?

BUCS stands for the British University Colleges Sport. It is the governing body that organizes the British university championships in pretty much all the sports available. The BUCS Cross-Country Championships usually take place in early February with a different university hosting the event each year.

Am I good enough to run in the BUCS cross-country championships?

Yes. There is a men’s A-race and a men’s B-race. While a team of 6 is selected for the A-race, unlimited numbers are allowed in the B-race. There is one ladies’ race with an unlimited number of entrants permitted. So everyone who wants to run, can run. It is a fantastic event so don’t miss out.

What is the Chris Brasher College League?

The Chris Brasher College League takes place over the Michaelmas and Lent terms, and consists of a series of races over various courses in Cambridge. It is both fun and competitive. Each college will have a College League Rep’ to contact if you want to run for your college in any of the races. The league is named after Chris Brasher, one of the greatest athletes ever to run for Cambridge, who sadly died on February 28th 2003. Runners of all standards are welcome. Click here for details.

What is there besides the running?

Plenty. There are many social events arranged throughout the year. Each term there will be several formal hall dinners, curry nights and pub trips.

There are also post-race celebrations after the bigger races like Varsity and BUCS. Other highlights include the pre-Varsity Match team bonding sessions, the Hare & Hounds BBQ and the unmissable Annual Dinner.

At all events, there is very much an atmosphere in which everyone is welcome. No one is expected to conform to any stereotypes. Beer-guzzlers and T-totalers exist in complete harmony! There is no pressure either way. Just come along and you’ll see what I mean.

Visit the socials section for more details.

What does AOTW stand for?

Animal of the Week: an honour awarded each week for the person who puts on the most animalistic display of running and possibly other activities. Click here for more details. There is also the Animal of the Year (AOTY), awarded at the Annual Dinner at the end of the Lent Term.

What is a “Harey”?

A Harey (pl: Haries) is a slang term for any member of CUH&H.

What are the training camps like?

Despite the ominous sounding name, the CUH&H training camps are just awesome and everyone should experience at least one. They are festivals of running, food and laughter but, frankly, no short answer can do them justice so check out the full description here.

What goes on outside term time?

While most undergrad’s disperse outside full term, a large postgrad community remains. For anyone around in Cambridge during the “holidays”, runs and sessions continue as do the pub sessions (although they often migrate to Clown’s for coffee and desserts!). A special email list called soc-cuhh-hols@lists.cam.ac.uk is set up each holiday period just for those who remain in Cambridge. Details can be found here.

For everyone else, the main email lists still operate. Weekly schedules are still sent out for anyone without a coach or training group back home. Everyone is encouraged to keep running over the long breaks, especially over the summer to be fit for the start of the Michaelmas term.

The training camps also takes place outside term and are simply not to be missed.

What kit do I need and how can I get hold of it?

Kit falls into two categories: competition kit (vest and shorts) and non-competition kit.

Competition kit: the Varsity Match men’s 1st – 3rd teams and ladies’ 1st and 2nds each have their own vests (to be worn with white shorts). For all other races, the standard CUH&H vest and shorts are worn.

The non-competition kit available varies from year to year but usually consists of some kind of training top. For more details see the kit page.

The standard CUH&H vest and shorts and the main non-competition kit will be available throughout each term. In particular there will be a stall at the squash after the Freshers’ Fun Run at which you will be able to buy them (at a discount to all those who join on the day).

The kit secretary, will bring kit along to each race and you will be able to purchase it from him so bring your cheque book. If there is a particular item you want, please email him in advance to make sure he brings it. You can also contact him to arrange an alternative time such as at a training session or social. Of course no one will force you to buy any kit but borrowing is usually more hassle than it’s worth.

The Varsity Match kit will be available to buy in the week leading up to the Varsity Matches when team selections have been made. Details will be sent out nearer the time.

In the Lent term, commemorative T-shirts are produced for BUCS, with an appropriately witty slogan. Other CUH&H items (such as ties etc) will also probably be available. All will be publicised via the website and mailing lists when they are ready.

Obviously you will also need trainers and most of the cross-country races are best run in spikes.

What is a Boat Race?

This is a hotly contested drinking race. There is one at the party after both the 2nds-4ths and the Blues Varsity Matches. 8 boys/girls from Cambridge line up against 8 from the Dark Side each with a pint of beer on the table in front of them. On the word “go”, the first in the team downs their pint and places the glass on their head at which point the second in the team does the same. This continues down the line of 8 and the first team to complete all 8 is the winner.

Oh yeah and it’s also a race involving big blokes in a boat that takes place each year on the Thames.

Why did the membership form ask for my best pint-downing time?

Recruitment: see the answer to the previous question!

How do I get involved in the committee?

The AGM takes place each year towards end of the Lent term usually 1 week before the Annual Dinner. This is when the committee for the proceeding year is voted in. Details of all the positions available and the voting procedure are published a few weeks in advance of the AGM. The actual handover event is the Annual Dinner on the Saturday at the end of the Lent term. Do get involved: anyone who has will tell you, it is well worth it.

How does the whole Club, Mens and Ladies Captaincy thing work?

There is one Club Captain who is the figurehead and leader of CUH&H. He/she has many responsibilities including setting schedules, making speeches etc. He/she is also the captain of the team of his/her sex. There is then a captain of the opposite sex to the Club Captain. (Thus if the Club Captain is a man he is also the men’s captain and then there is a ladies’ captain).

Who’s better, Oxford or Cambridge?

Cambridge.

Are we awesome?

Yes.

Should I believe the hype?

Yes.