Cross Country Running has long been a favourite sport in schools and it is no surprise that the sport carried across to the armed forces, where the stamina required for long distance running has an obvious cross over to more martial skills. The equipment to run a cross country competition was minimal- a start and finish point and some sort of markers to direct participants around the course were about all that was needed- and so it was a popular sporting event to run in both the Army and Air Force. The RAF set up a Cross Country Running Association shortly after the formation of the service in 1918 and like many service athletic organisations it commissioned its own medallions to award to those who competed in and won it’s competitions. Today we are looking at a fine example of the medallion maker’s art, with this bronze medal which bears the figure of a Greek god receiving his wings for victory on the front:
The details of the sport the medal is being awarded for are marked beneath. The rear is far more plain, with just the rather underwhelming phrase ‘attained athletic standard’ with a space to engrave the recipient’s name and details:
As far as I can ascertain, these medals were normally issued un-named and it was up to the recipient themselves to mark the medallion, which from surviving examples does not seem to have been common practice. Sadly this means that today there is little context to these medals and in this case we do not know when or where it was issued, nor who received it. I suspect it is wartime in date, but could range anywhere from the 1920s to the 1960s in date. For an in depth study of RAF sporting medals, this page has some fascinating details on the myriad designs issued to RAF sportsmen over the years.