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HIGHGATE HARRIERS Night of the 10,000m PBs
Saturday 10th May 2014
Parliament Hill Fields
London NW5


By Alastair Aitken

On Saturday, at Parliament Hill track, the evening was chilly, blustery, with several prolonged showers. That did not dampen the spirits of the athletes or spectators at the meeting (which this year Included British & England Championships). Countless personal best times were achieved. That was thanks to the main organiser Ben Pochee who first put the 'atmospheric' event on in 2013.
"I feel this year's evening 10k competition was the most exciting domestic 10k event I had seen since local man, Dave Bedford, (the last British World record holder over 10k) beat a 'Class' field at Crystal Palace to take 7 seconds off the Official World record at the time (27:30.80 on the 13th of July 1973)" said Press Secretary Alastair Aitken.

In the last race of the evening at Parliament Hill, the fifth fastest British male runner of all time and the 23rd fastest of all time over 10,000m were the favourites. Aldershot's Chris Thompson and Andy Vernon were those two. Thompson was well down the field in 8th place for most of the early laps, before he decided to join Andy Vernon at the front. Vernon, the man on form, had not done what Thompson had and run in the recent London Marathon, which Thompson did in 2:11 so, he had fresh legs and able to successfully 'Put the boot in' with several laps remaining and won in a European qualifying time of 28:26.59. Chris Thompson was 2nd in 28:49.77 and Liverpool Harrier, Jonny Mellor was 3rd in 28:52.90.

At this stage of the report it would be good to hear from the joint organiser of the event this year from British Athletics. He talked to me before the races started: Martin Rush, "I work alongside Barry Fudge as Head of Endurance. I am then called the Event Group lead of British Athletics".
Martin was very pleased that he had, sort of married himself up with Highgate Harriers for this whole 10,000m evening!
"Absolutely, Ben Pochee of Highgate Harriers did a 'Great' job last year in getting this event going. There was a real need to have both the development of high level 10,000m in this country and I think we felt for too long, athletes have had to travel across the water to the Stamford meet to try to get a fast time. OK, we have not been blessed with the best of weather to-day but certainly, in future years hopefully we will develop this event even further and see whether it is best to combine things like Trials with this event and, we can get this 10,000m opportunity. The standards in this country really need moving forwards. I think it is a firm belief with a lot of people that if you get the 10,000m right then you get the marathon right as well."
"In the past we have tried to combine the trials in with the main trials in July time and the issue at the moment is I think, we have not got enough people doing 5000 and 10000m. People have trouble doing both events so, to take the 10,000 out of that main trials and put it earlier. By pulling the 10,000 out of the main trials and then putting it earlier, it gives the opportunity of some 5000m runners, who are targeting 5000 maybe, to come and do the 10,000 as well"
"If we give them this opportunity we could see a resurgence in our depth of 10,000metre running. I firmly believe we will see a resurgence in the marathon times as well.

This meeting is 'Great' It gives the opportunity of club runners, all the way through to international athletes, to come out and run fast 10,000's or just get in a really competitive race."
Jo Pavey (Exeter), four times an Olympian, ran her first race this year, after giving birth and ran away from the field in the Women's 'A' race, which she did in a European qualifying time of 32:11.04. It was the manner she won, beating two European cross country Champions Sophie Duarate of France (32:36.32) and Fionnula Britton, twice European cross-country Champion from Ireland. Beth Potter of Shaftesbury Barnet ended up third in 32:45.69. Pavey's time was a British Masters Record and took a chunk off Joyce Smith's 'Over 40 record' of 34:26.04. Joyce did that at Hendon in 1980.

All the Highgate Harriers who took part ran well on the night. A resurgent Shaun Dixon, who has had an 'Off Season' was back on his way to his best, with a personal best 10k time of 30:16.78 in Race 3 on the programme. The winner was Sean Fontana of Victoria Park Harriers, Glasgow in 30:09.21. 23 started.
In Race One Tom Christopher did a PB of 34:04.94 in 8th of 22. In race Two, four Highgate runners took part and they were Gordon Pearce who was 3rd of 23 in 32:11.36, Robel Bahelbi, running well over distance for him was 13th in 32:46.17; 21 was Gregory Rimmer in 33:33.97 and Henry Dodwell ran 34:02.07.
Becky Penty showed she was on the way back with her 36:59.05 in Race One, as the third woman in the race.

Alastair Aitken