KTH 125th Year Anniversary

When athletics emerged in the 1860s and 1870s, paper-chasing became the most popular event after its introduction on Wimbledon Common in 1868 by Thames Hare and Hounds. In a paper chase, two 'hares' lay a trail of paper over the country, and the pack of 'hounds' try to catch up with them. Although this sport soon developed into cross country as we know it today, the earliest such athletic clubs called themselves 'Hare and Hounds' or 'Harriers'.

Kettering Town Harriers was established in 1894 and as such is one of the longest established clubs in the region. With 2019 being our 125th year we celebrated with a traditional 125 lap relay around the track and the opportunity for members, family & friends talk about old times. Some of the members & athletes reproduced an iconic photograph taken over 40 years ago.

Iconic photo from the KTH members from the 1970's

Retake of the iconic photo from the 70's with some of the 2019 members!

The Club has expanded and seen significant growth in recent years with the introduction of KTHBolts (for 7&8 year olds) and a vibrant Road Running & Joggers section supported by our qualified Young Sports Leaders and Run Leaders respectively. The club now boasts athletes from 7-78 years’ old.

We secured funding in from Sport England/England Athletics to fit a state of the art floodlighting system in 2016, which is the foundation for much of the progress seen in the club in recent years. The club also pioneered the use of fully electronic timing in the region at our floodlit open meetings, events which now attract many of the region’s top athletes.

The Club has achieved significant success in athletics recently and currently have a world champion in Emily Williams (World ISF schools 800m champion), a number of national champions, over 80 county champions, competing in activities across middle distance, sprint, jumps and throws disciplines.

Emily Williams was crowned current ISF World schools 800m champion in Croatia

The Club also enjoyed a double promotion this track & field season, winning the Senior Midland League Division, and also finishing very close runners up to Rugby & Northampton to gain promotion to Division 1 of the Heart of England Junior League.

It’s not just the younger age groups performing well, the older members of the club are also enjoying considerable success, with the Vets league winning the B finals in Nottingham, defeating the host club in what was a remarkable achievement for a club of our size.

With a history of 125 years the number of club records that have been bettered in increasing numbers over the Club’s most recent years is remarkable - in 2019 there have been a total of 28 club records broken, with 16 new Vets records, and a total of 12 from the younger athletes from the various squads. Many of which are likely to remain in place for many years to come, given the new benchmark set.

The club also had a record number of athletes reach the qualifying standard for English Schools T&F Championships in 2019 with 9 athletes meeting the quali standard and 5 being selected to represent Northants Schools.

Some of the English schools qualifiers from 2019


At the same time Kettering Town Harriers is inclusive and offers anyone who is interested the opportunity to get involved in running and athletic fitness to improve their health & wellbeing. The Club has close links with Kettering parkrun and is supporting the establishment of a junior parkrun (2km) for 3-7 years old children - due to start later this year.

Some of the KTH athletes in the Wicksteed Park Run takeover

One of the largest increases in membership has been for the road runners and joggers’ groups who can opt to ‘pay as you go’ £2 per session to run with experienced run leaders from a ‘walk-jog’ pace to elite competition standard, as well as the option to become a full member.

Chairman Matt Brown is hugely proud of what the Club have achieved “We have a great team of people that has got us to where we are today all working hard to make things happen on a day to day basis and when it comes to meetings and events. During our 125th year anniversary celebration I had the pleasure of speaking to past members and club officials who were at the 100th and 75th anniversary celebrations and its reassuring to know that whilst much has changed, many of the challenges remain the same. We hope to ensure during our tenure that the Club continues to thrive and proudly represent the Town and we ensure as best we can future generations are able to enjoy the Club and its facilities and celebrate as much as we have”