Horsham runners 'adopt' the shoes of legendary world champion Alfred Shrubb

A group of runners have ‘adopted’ the shoes of a Horsham man who became a world champion long distance runner.
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Alfred Shrubb was one of the greatest distance runners that the UK has ever seen – even racing at one time against a horse – and set 28 world records.

Now, almost 60 years after his death, Horsham Joggers running group have paid a special tribute to him by ‘adopting’ his shoes which are on display at Horsham Museum.

The museum has 20 objects available for adoption – a scheme which helps it raise money to fund important projects.

The running shoes of legendary world champion Horsham runner Alfred Shrubb. Photo: Horsham MuseumThe running shoes of legendary world champion Horsham runner Alfred Shrubb. Photo: Horsham Museum
The running shoes of legendary world champion Horsham runner Alfred Shrubb. Photo: Horsham Museum

Now, Alfred Shrubb’s shoes are displayed at the museum alongside a certificate proclaiming their adoption by the Joggers.

World champion middle and long distance runner Alfred Shrubb was born at Slinfold in 1879 and dominated the sport in the Edwardian era.

During an amateur career lasting from 1899 to 1905 and a professional career from 1905 to 1912 he won more than 1,000 races and set 28 world records.

In 1908 he became a coach at Harvard and from 1919 to 1928 he coached the Oxford University Athletic Club. He finally settled in Canada, where he died in 1964.

Legendary runner Alfred ShrubbLegendary runner Alfred Shrubb
Legendary runner Alfred Shrubb

He is commemorated by an annual Alfie Shrubb Museum Run in Canada and the annual Alf Shrubb Memorial five mile cross-country run in Slinfold.

At the peak of his career Alfred Shrubb was virtually unbeatable at distances up to 15 miles, often racing against relay teams so that the race would be more competitive.

After a big win, he would return to Horsham and be carried shoulder high from the station down to The Anchor Hotel in Market Square.

On August 16 1919, the West Sussex County Times carried a report of his race against a horse.

"About 2,300 people were present on the Horsham Cricket Ground to see Alfred Shrubb, who recently arrived from Canada, engage in a five mile race with a well known local trotting horse, the property of Mr Joseph Burton. The ground had been enclosed and the ‘gate’ was for the funds of the Horsham and YMCA Cricket Club, as the two are jointly and experimentally running the matches this season.

"A course of five laps to the mile had been prepared. The start time was fixed for 7 o’clock. Kitty M, a six year old trotting horse, was attached to a four wheeled buggy with Mr Alan Collins as the driver and Mr L Blackiston as passenger.

"There was no doubt as to the winner, Kitty M gaining more and more ground as the laps went on, finishing in a time of 26 minutes and 1 second, against

Shrubb’s time of 28 minutes 8½ seconds.”

Among other objects available for adoption at Horsham Museum are a comb belonging to ‘acid bath murderer’ John George Haigh; a suit of armour; dinosaur footprints; a town crier bell; a mummified cat – and more.

Adults can adopt museum objects for £25. Children can adopt museum objects for £10.

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