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. Some of our athletes regularly represent Scotland and occasionally Great Britain in international races. At the other end of the scale, we have plenty more members who aren’t in the least bit interested in competing for their country, and a few 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 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. Students and other low-income members pay nothing. Paying subs means the club will cover your entry fees to most cross-country races during the winter season.

Beer 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 simple 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 distance 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.

The club history has been documented by observers over the years. We shall let them speak for themselves:

“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/

“Who are these elusive yet highly capable athletes?”

“They do it for the running and the beer. Everything else can go hang.”

“Run 100 miles in 100 hours.. drink 100 pints… Great club.. they’ve been down here for a weekend away and gave the barman sore arms from all the ale pulling..”

“HBT [is] Edinburgh based and they will take anybody on, it’s not a closed club. They were formed on the basis of strict non-conformity, which … is the reason for the plain brown vests. They are a very friendly but eccentric bunch that take great delight in their somewhat off the wall antics and reputation. However, they have (and have had) some absolutely fantastic runners. …they are beasts on the fells and also at the bar. Cracking bunch. More running clubs should follow their lead.”

“…their application to affiliate to Scottish Athletics as “The Bog Trotters” [was] turned down on the grounds that a club with plain brown vests and plain brown shorts, with the name “Bog Trotters” would bring athletics into disrepute. So, as “Hunters Bog” is on their home patch, they re-applied in that guise and were accepted.”

“First came across them in a campsite at 1991 world cup in zermatt. Complete and utter monsters!!!”