There are two stories to the origin. The first one involves a bunch of guys who got together for a horse race in England during the 1800s. The weather was bad and they did not want to risk hurting their expensive horses, so they ran the race themselves. The second was a (horse) race where there was so much fog no one could see. They ran from church steeple to church steeple in each town. Supposedly that's how it got its name. Either way, the event came from people running from town-to-town and jumping over fences, creeks and whatever else was in the way.