Trotters watching over our hometurf: Hunters Bog

What’s with the name? HBT are named after Hunters Bog, a flat marshy area of Holyrood Park between Arthurs Seat and the Salisbury Crags. In some ways, this unusual name is emblematic of our unusual (compared to most athletics clubs) approach to running. But it is also very descriptive: during summer months we can often be found training in Hunters Bog, and “trotting” nicely encapsulates our laid-back attitude.

Who can join? Anyone! We take a less conventional approach to running than most clubs, striving to balance training hard with enjoying ourselves. If that sounds alright to you, then come along and give our training a try. HBT are non-elitist, and we welcome runners of all ages and abilities. No one will care how fast you can run. A few of our athletes regularly represent Scotland and Great Britain in international races. At the other end of the scale, we have many more members who aren’t at all interested in competing for their country, and several who only come to the post-training pub session (“the real session”, they might say).

HBT was originally founded in 1980 as an alumni club for graduates of Edinburgh University Hare & Hounds Running Club (aka ‘the Haries’) who still wanted to enjoy the student lifestyle. However, nowadays anyone can join regardless of their education. That being said, we still enjoy close ties with Haries.

The founding principles of the club were: no lager-drinkers, no Tories, no elitism. Whilst the club is still very much anti-elitist, the first two rules are a bit more relaxed these days. (But if you do unfortunately fall into those categories, you can expect a few jokes).

How much does it cost? We believe running should be kept cheap and accessible to all. All you should need to participate is a pair of trainers. We despair at the commercialisation of many races and want to keep running as affordable as possible.

Club membership fees (“subs”) are due on the 1st of October and cost 20 guineas for the year – or £21 if you chose to accept the 1971 decimalisation of currency. Half price if you’re a second-claim member or long-term injured. Students and other low-income members pay nothing. Membership status means the club will cover your entry fees to most cross-country races during the winter season. You’ll also receive The Trotsman, which is the club magazine.

How do I actually become a member? In the first instance, contact one of our Captains and they’ll let you know the details of upcoming training sessions. Come along, get involved, join us in the pub after training, and see if you like our style. To officially become a member you need to pay your subs into the club bank account (contact the Chancellor for details), and sign your name on the back of a beer mat. You should also join the Trotter World Service (our mailing list) – ask a Captain or our Tech Geek to add you.

When is it my turn to buy a round in the pub? Beer (specifically, real ale) is bought and consumed following this very important maxim: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

Why brown? Every club needs their own identity. Ours is brown. Sticking to one colour makes it easier to dye our own running vests, which many member do at home themselves.

What’s with all the acronyms? HBT! OFY! RLF! It’s just a shorter way of conveying information and providing encouragement. You’ll pick them up. ATFB. Hint: “F” doesn’t stand for “flipping”.

Odd and ends and a bit of club history

HBT was founded in 1980 by Robin “YP” Thomas (he’s a bit of a local legend in the Scottish running scene) alongside his comrades Conrad White, Bill Blair, and Ian Orton. In the early years membership was largely made up of recently graduated members of Edinburgh University Hare & Hounds Running Club. Nowadays anyone is welcome to join.

A history of the club has been published on the Scottish Distance Running History website, here. (Albeit, an incomplete one – there are too many stories for a truely complete history to be feasibly written).

We occasionally make headlines in the press:

“Trotters frown on egotism, those who take themselves too seriously, and particularly on the too-intense pursuit of excellence. Winning races is discouraged, even ensured, by the most bizarre means. Some of their number, for example, even stop during road and cross-country races, when the location of hostelries permits, to partake of a pint, ideally of real ale, before continuing.”

The Herald, 19 January 1995, https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12671422.gb-cap-could-leave-mowbray-in-a-quandary/