Why is a horse race over obstacles called a steeplechase?
In the 18th century, a group of fox hunters were returning from a fruitless hunt when one of the hunters, deciding the day should not be a total waste of time, suggested an interesting race. He bet he could ride straight to a steeple that was visible in the distance and touch it with his whip before any of the other hunters. Everyone agreed the race to the steeple had to be straight, meaning the riders had to jump obstacles long the way. The bet was accepted, and the first steeplechase race began.
Later, this term was used to describe overland races between several steeples. Today, it just means an obstacle course.