The people of the town raised 30 guineas to provide the winner with a trophy. It was named The Chesham Challenge Cup and is still presented every year to the winner of the National championship.
The 1914 race was held in “unfavourable conditions” according to the Bucks Herald of March 21st with “torrents of rain” creating a “deluge”. Nevertheless, it was so successful that the organisers of the Annual International Cross-Country championship to be held two weeks later decided to hold it in Chesham too.
Both races were open only to men. Many of them would soon be called on to fight in a war from which they would not return.
The Club Secretary of Chiltern Harriers AC and Race Director, Tony Molesworth, says the club plans to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and the two significant athletics events of 1914 at this year’s Herbert’s Hole race, beginning in Lowndes Park on November 16th.
Club Chairman, Trevor Davies said: “It seems fitting that we do something special this year. We’ve been running Herbert’s Hole for 22 years. Part of the race is run over the same course as the national and international races held in 1914, and which started and finished in what was then called Chesham Park.
“It’s poignant that so many of the young men who came to the town to run that March would not survive the Great War.
“We would like to hear from anyone who has information about the events and, in particular, about any of the local runners who took part”.
Information should be sent to the Race Director Tony Molesworth
NOTE FOR EDITORS:
The 1914 English National Cross Country Championship was won by 25-year-old Charlie Ruffell of Highgate Harriers who also competed in two Olympic Games (Stockholm in 1912 and Antwerp in 1920). He served as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers in the First World War.
269 athletes took part. The war halted the annual event and there was not another National until 1920.
In more recent years the National has been won by some famous names in the world of athletics, including David Bedford and Brendan Foster.
The International race attracted 5000 spectators. It was contested by the four home nations and France, and was won by England’s Alfred Nichols (23). England also won the team prize.
For more information contact:
Tony Molesworth – 07785 501499 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Race entries are open for this year’s race at www.chilternharriers.weebly.com/herberts-hole