Back in 1981, a few members of Alton Round Table used to jog around the Jubilee Field. From this acorn grew the oak tree of Alton Joggers, now Alton Runners. One Tabler and five local GPs formed the first Alton Joggers team and competed in the 1981 Sunday Times National Fun Run. This team came 1,342nd out of 1,350 teams, beating such keen competition as the Worcester College for the Blind C & D teams, the Frog Lovers Appreciation Society Harriers and the Islington Gay Runners. The Club was born and we resolved to do even better next year. (In 1982 we entered four teams and our ‘A’ team came 74th. Our best performance was in 1984 when we came 14th – that year we were featured in Running Magazine with a three page spread of colour photos entitled ‘An everyday story of country folk!’.A newsletter was written and the numbers of Sunday morning joggers rose steadily. We began to enter teams for local events such as the Frensham Ponds Fun Run and the Hogs Back Road Race.  In March 1982, we held the first General Meeting which was attended by 35 members. The title ‘Alton Joggers’ was adopted and a formal structure for the Club resolved – with Peter Remnant as Club Captain and Race Organiser, Ian Cooke as Treasurer and myself as Chairman and Secretary. (I was immensely grateful when Liz Vickers took over the Secretarial role at the next years AGM).The first subscription – £1 for individuals and £1.50 for families – was levied and affiliation to the AAAs agreed. The Club colours of yellow with black crest were passed.  While the Club colours have not changed, we have adjusted our Club name – we are now Alton Runners.The Alton Round Table and Alton Joggers joined forces in October 1982 to organise the first Alton Fun Run and 6½ mile Road Race. This event has been staged annually ever since and is now the Alton Downland Challenge and Lesser Challenge (10k and 5k trail races) organised jointly with the Alton Lions.

In 1983 we held our first hash at Bonhams, thanks to Michael Cannon – an occasion which was held for some years and laid on by Tim and Carey Hides. On 1st April 1984, in a snow storm, the Alton 10 was born. This was the brainchild of Reg Marsh, a local celebrity and TV actor, who planned it to raise money for the Home Farm Trust. About 500 entered the first year and since then the figure has fluctuated between 500 and 750. The Ten Mile road race is one of the annual venues for the Hampshire Road Race League and hosts the County 10 mile Championships every third year.  It, too, is co-organised with Alton Lions. Over the years our members have competed in innumerable races at home and abroad.  – We have a handful of runners in the London Marathon each year and have sent representatives to the Paris and New York Marathons and even the Ironman Triathlon. We have seen some notable successes, including three out of the first ten in the 1984 Farnham Marathon, the individual and team winners in the 1985 Farnham Triathlon and the individual and team winners in the 1989 Old Basing half Marathon. In 1988 we became members of the Hampshire County Cross Country League under the leadership of mens captain Mike Lake. This opened up the way for the club to enter teams in the Hampshire, Southern and National Cross Country Championships. This was followed just a few years later with the introduction of a cross country league for the less serious  runners  under the name of the Today’s Runner Cross Country League. It put in place a restriction on any fast male and female runners taking part who run below certain times (these times are reviewed each year). Towards the end of the 1990’s the Hampshire Road Race League was formed. This league has been growing ever since and is now 27 clubs strong in the year of 2010. At the turn of the century it was agreed at a special meeting to change the club name to Alton Runners. Within eighteen months in 2001/02 our womens team took 1st place in the Hants Road Race League Division 2 and followed that up the following year becoming Division 1 Champions pipping Winchester AC who have dominated the league ever since. Since then they have also had 2nd place (twice) 2002/03 and 2008/09 and a 3rd 2004/05. The men have had an up and down experience having been Division 2 winners twice, in 2005/06 and 2008/09 and runners up in 2002/03. In the Hants Cross Country League the men have had one success- Runners-up in Division in 2004/05. Running and jogging with Alton Runners is not just about winning. Countless members of the club have run in events and races just for the fun and enjoyment of it or have benefitted from the camaraderie of running and training together. Friendships are made running on roads or countryside or at the Club’s social events. I like to think, too, that we have raised by a fraction the level of phvsical fitness of the citizens of Alton.

Hugh Bethell

Alton Runner Founder