This impressive piece of silverware is (soon to be) in my possession. Such are the glittering rewards for running laps of muddy fields. The latest muddy fields I ran around were actually frozen ones on Farthing Down in Coulsdon. Whenever I think of Farthing Down, I remember the children’s book, The Baby and Fly Pie, in which a fictional Farthing Down is transformed into a rubbish dump. The race was the Pirie 10, an annual almost 10-mile race organised by South London Harriers. And Farthing Down was no dump; on an icy, sparkling day of blue skies it positively gleamed.
All I had to do to claim the silverware – the century-old Dewar Shield first presented in 1907, no less – was overcome anyone else wearing a red and black Herne Hill vest. This is normally very hard, but on this day, overcome I did, clocking a pleasing 59,52. Much more pleasing than 60,01. Unfortunately, I couldn’t overcome a South London Harrier, two Tadworth Harriers and a Cambridge athlete, so I had to be satisfied with fifth.