Running clubs come in many forms and have many names - usually the area or town where they are based (though not all), and some description such as Harriers, Runners, athletic club, Road Runners and so on. But is there a distinction between these descriptions?
This is a piece I found about the origins of the harriers name
Original Document borrowed from here. I thought it was interesting.
200 or so years a go, children used to run cross country races, they called themselves harriers-- "hare hunters"-- because they were imitating their fathers' sport of hunting. Two runners would be designated the "hares" or "foxes" and run ahead by 10 minutes or so (that time was called "law"), laying a "scent" of shredded paper.
The pack was the younger runners (roughly ages 13-15), who were supposedly hounds. At Shrewsbury School in England, the first to organize the sport, they were even given appropriate doggy names, like "Trojan" or "Challenger." Their job was to follow the scent, working as a team to cover any "checks" (where the scent was lost). Skilled hares would zigzag and double, and lay false trails to make the hounds' job difficult. So when you modestly say you are a mid-pack or back-of-the-pack runner, you are linking yourself to those young hounds of the early 1800s.
The field was the older students (ages 16-18), who were supposedly the pursuing huntsmen. They followed the hounds, and once the hares were sighted, they began the serious run in. If they caught the hares, it was "the kill." So if you're "ahead of the field," you are indeed winning the race, just as the best schoolboy runner did as he chased the hares any misty October day in 1825.
They also organized more formal races, which they called steeplechases, modeled on their fathers' daredevil horseback gallops from one village church steeple to the next. This time there would be a marked course. That came from the Latin word "currere," to run, which also gave us other running words like "courier" and "current" -- the latest news brought by running messenger. Fences, streams, and thorny hedges were all part of the challenge, and the students at Shrewsbury next day proudly displayed the scars inflicted by a technique they called "belly-hedging." When I visited Shrewsbury in my 60s, I ran all their courses but I did not try belly-hedging, thank you.
Sometimes they would jump hurdles, which were movable sections of fencing, used by farmers for penning sheep.
And your team coach? He or she takes the name from a little town called Kocs or Kotcz, in western Hungary, where in the 1400s they devised a special cart, a "kotczi-wagon," for transporting passengers on the rough local roads. "Kotczi" became "coach" in English. In about 1845, at Oxford University, it was adapted to mean someone who gives special tutoring -- who carries the student (or athlete) along, as if driving them in a coach.
One last word that I specially like is exercise. Its original meaning (Latin "ex-arcere") is "to move out of confinement or restraint." That fits every harrier. We leave the classroom or office behind to run free with the pack, enjoying the open air and natural surface of fields or trails. Words can tell us a lot about why we run, and how it all began.
From: ROGER ROBINSON's Footsteps column chronicles great moments in distance running.