"act of running," c.1300, from Old Norse ras "running, rush (of water)," cognate with Old English ræs "a running, a rush, a leap, jump; a storming, an attack;" or else a survival of the Old English word with spelling influenced by the Old Norse one. The Norse and Old English words are from Proto-Germanic *res- (cf. Middle Dutch rasen "to rave, rage," German rasen, Old English raesettan "to rage" (of fire)), from a variant form of PIE *ers- "be in motion" (see err). Originally a northern word, it became general in English c.1550. Meaning "act of running" is from early 14c. Meaning "contest of speed" first recorded 1510s.