Shrewsbury School

Sun shines for annual Sidney-Darwin Dash and Quarter Mile Challenge Heats

Friday 28 May 2021

It was glorious weather for an afternoon of running, as Salopians took part in this year’s Sidney-Darwin Dash and Quarter Mile Challenge Heats.

After weeks of rain, the sun shone for one of the first all-school events of the year which saw our boys and girls take part in the Heats before the finals on Sunday, June 27 at 10am.

The pupils were out in force to cheer on their houses, with face paints and flags out showing their support.

Master in Charge of Athletics, Emma Davis said: "And I did promise sunshine... an excellent afternoon of Athletics took place on Top Common for the Annual ‘Sidney Darwin Dash and Quarter Mile Challenge’. It was a delight to see so many pupils competing, supporting each other and a wonderful sense of normality returning. There were some exceptionally quick times and I look forward to the Final - it looks to be an epic battle in a number of races!

"Thank you so much to all the staff who supported the event  - the grounds team for preparing the ‘track’ in tough conditions, the Physical Education department and of course Mr Percival for his commentating and excellent DJ’ing!"

The genesis of the event came when a local resident of the town contacted the School asking whether we would be interested in a silver butter dish top that she had found in her attic, presented on 17th June 1869 to a certain H Hughes for winning the Shrewsbury School Quarter-Mile.  

Having gratefully received this donation, we added a rather fine plinth and silver plates and considered the idea of recreating the old ‘Quarter-Mile’ event.  A suitable location was scouted for, with various areas around the school campus and beyond considered, but the area around Central was settled on, to include a loop down past the Main School Buildings and around the Alington Hall. We decided, moreover, to extend the event to include a sprint, with the tree-lined avenue running between the Sidney and Darwin statues providing a natural ‘track’ to put our speedsters to the test.  

It was certainly quirky and not your average athletics event, but the first year’s in 2011 event was a tremendous success, with competitors and spectators relishing the uniqueness of the event and the exciting action that it generated.  The trophy was won by Port Hill’s Howard Stringer in a time that remains the event record, a title that he retained in his upper sixth year in 2012. 

In 2016 the event was relocated to Top Common, being deemed a more suitable (and safer!) option for our exceptionally quick runners!

The event is a highlight in the School’s Athletics Calendar, and one that was warmly welcomed after a year of remote learning.

We look forward to the final competition at the end of June!


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