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Pirie Eleison

If you haven't the foggiest notion what the title means, Google will steer you right. I suppose I should apologise for reinforcing any stereotypes you might have about pretentious public schoolboys and their dreadful intellectual in-jokes, but, err, I hope that's part of my charm :-)

Sorry :-( But it almost worked for Boris Johnson...

To the race then: the Pirie 10 Mile, named for Gordon Pirie who lived in the locality and ran for South London Harriers. Now despite being a pretentious public schoolboy, I didn't know anything of this until I looked him up, but you might be surprised to find quite how many different entries the "Pirie" disambiguation page on Wikipedia offers! Just in the sporting field alone, you can have two swimmers, an ice hockey player, a motorcycle racer, a baseball player, a footballer and a sailor! Or if you prefer, an MI5 spy no less! And there's a Port Pirie in South Australia and two Australian naval warships of that name!

Oops, sorry, the race!

Let's start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. 'Do' is the bottom of Farthing Down, Coulsdon. (No more Sound of Music references, I promise!) It's a beautiful sunny day, albeit cold, and there are still some patches of ice in the shade.

The race begins with a gentle uphill. The course is undulating rather than steep for the most part.

Cows are peacefully grazing until suddenly a bunch of runners appear from nowhere and startle them! I should have video of the cattle stampede rather than still photos that don't convey the full bovine sense of disgruntlement.

By the time Jo gets to the top of the ridge, the cows have scarpered.

Jo is definitely on form; there's a bit of a gap now. Amanda is just ahead of Paul and Claire brings up the rear, and they don't even know the cows were ever on the route here.

Hmm... A Dulwich Runner I don't recognise (which is not to say I've never met him before, because memory is not my greatest strength), but he's well ahead of my posse and this is the first and last we'll see of him here.

At Beachy Head, I took a scenic picture that I only later realised Jo was in. This one is quite deliberate: I know she's there because I have close-ups with my long lens, but I thought the wide shot would be more of a challenge to you all :-)

See, this is what the long lens shows at a point that's little more than a dot on the wide angle. Claire has got ahead of Amanda and Paul now, though there's still not much in it.

Sadly, the marshalling has left a little to be desired on occasion, but here all is well.

I saw no sheep myself (only cows), but I do like the idea: Bach wrote "Sheep may safely graze", but I like to think he'd've wanted them to graze happily too...

Ooh, what's this?! Paul's got ahead of Amanda :-(

She's not happy: she's lost the path and gone astray for a bit :-(((

Talking to a marshal who is also one of the organisers, they've been having problems with runners going wrong, including some of the leaders. He says they're a bit short-handed, and sadly there are always local kids who think it's fun to take away the route markers.

We've never thought of Coulsdon as an attractive place - well, it's basically Sarf Croydon innit - but the church forms a nice backdrop to the hills here.

So I'll take a picture of everyone here...

Well, obviously, by "everyone", I mean people that I know or who catch my eye for some particular reason. This race has few if any of the latter.

This is the first time Amanda's ever run Farthing Down, although she's walked it with her family many times. Likewise, it's the first time I've seen a lot of the views; there's more to this patch of greenery in the suburbs than we'd realised. It's actually owned by the Corporation of the City of London, as are several similar areas near where we live and the Ashtead 10k race is run on their land too. But that's organised by Dr Rob, so naturally everything to to with logistics is utterly impeccable. (Ok, the year the hornets attacked was probably beyond his control, but it hasn't happened since. Just saying.)

I could pretend this is another "Spot the Jo" picture, but it's actually not. She came along a few minutes later when I'd moved to get a better picture of the actual runners.

Claire follows Jo up the hill...

Then Amanda follows Paul...

Fortunately, there are two marshals to tell Jo to go straight ahead through the gate! How would she have figured it out otherwise...? It's not the only place where there is more than one marshal who might better have been relocated to somewhere with none.

Somebody has a camera drone - whether for the runners or not, I've no idea. [Aside: model helicopters have existed for yonks, so why are drones suddenly such a big thing? Because traditional helicopters, whether full size or model, are a real bugger to fly for good aerodynamic reasons. Quad and hex rotor designs rely totally on modern electronics technology, but given that, are a piece of piss to fly.]

Amanda spots her mother's car on the road. The family are here, almost in time to support her. Even if they planned just to be at the finish, they're too late now :-(

The cows are calmer now!

Paul crosses the finish line. Would Amanda have beaten him without routing errors? Who knows.

Claire cheers her on as she finishes.

And that's the Pirie 10 Mile race done!

Now for the really tough bit: the family!

Love to all,


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