Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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HIGHGATE HARRIERS FIRST OPEN 10K (6th June 2013)

BEN POCHEE, the fastest M40 over 3 & 10k in 2012, organised three 10k races in the cool, slightly windy evening at Parliament Hill Fields track.
    As 10000m on the track is rarely run outside of Championships, in recent years and, in order to help improve standards and reverse the trend back to having more top class UK athletes, successful over the distance again Pochee, helped by Highgate Harriers & the City of London Corporation put on a successful event with large electrical timing, pace setting, a band playing in the intervals and very good PA (commentaries). That event could well be a forerunner of such events over the distance in the future.
   Dave Bedford, on crutches from a recent operation, who lives in Highgate, was there all through the races and gave out the prizes. One must add that was emotive as the local Shaftesbury Harrier, had set a World record of 27:30.8 at Crystal Palace, forty years ago next month in July 2013. He also topped the World Rankings on time in 1970 with 28:06.2. Here are the other ranked UK athletes at the time (2 Lachie Stewart 28:11.8, 4 Dick Taylor 28:15.4, 5 Roger Mathews 28:21.4).
In 1971 he was top with 27:47.0 (Next best time by a UK athlete in 10th overall place Mike Tagg 28:14.8) and 1973 again ranked at the summit 27:30.8 (WR) (6 Dick Taylor; 27:46.4; 8 David Black 27:48.6.) As a pure matter of interest in 1974 Steve Prefontaine (USA) was the fastest in the World with 27:43.6 with Black and Bedford still making the top 10 and in 1975 Foster topped the list with 27:45.43 but the UK had four other athletes in the top 9 in the World - 4 David Black; 5 Tony Simmons, 8 Jim Brown and 9 Bernie Ford) so when Ben Pochee talks about the Halcyon Days of Distance running for the UK , my research tells me that was it!.
     At Parliament Hill at this first ever 'Open 10k' meeting on he 6th of June there were three races with athletes targeting times. The races in order were race 'C' 32.20-36min; 'B' race 30.29-32 min; and an 'A' race 28:59-30.15 so, for the 'A' race the last person in did 31:35.53 which showed the reasonable all-round quality for the first time the event has been put on.
   The winner of the 'A' race was Ed McGinley of Annadale Striders/Liverpool, who ran 29:53.32 beating his personal best of 30:38 that he achieved in 2012.
   McGinley, 30, said afterwards " I felt good early on and found myself at the front and decided to push it on a bit and suddenly got a bit of a gap. I ticked the laps off and got in a bit of a rhythm and brought it down in 2k segments'.
He added "I had a real good run at the BMC Race at Sports City last week and ran 14:07 for 5k so that was a PB and so I knew I was in good shape.'
   'It was a long day because I got up at 5 o'clock start this morning to get the flight over. It has been a long day but worthwhile like."
   He continued "I started running when I was about 8 and at 21 I stopped running and, as a smallish person I ballooned up to 10 stone but came back after 4 years in 2008. I had seen a picture of me with a friend and could not believe how fat I had become so, I started back just to  enjoy it. Each year it has been a better improvement for me and I am enjoying it again. I was a Sports Journalist for seven years but now I am a Business Consultant. I started the new job in February. The hours have been quite severe so it has been a bit difficult but as I said I am enjoying it with the camaraderie like at this meeting with all the athletes and encouragement."
   It was interesting to note that Ben Pochee's idea of 'Night of PBs' was no false statement!'
Besides the Personal Best time of McGinley, the other two in the frame in the 'A' race did personal Best times Darren Deed improved on his best of 30:14.7 and Nick Torry took a massive amount off his previous best of 32:10.35!
First 3 in each race:-
Race 'C'
1 Gordon Pearce (Highgate Harriers)   32:33.40
2 James Chettle (Cambridge)           32:40.15
3 Simon Coombes (Herne Hill Harriers) 33:21.26
Race 'B'
1 Harvey Speed (Coventry Godiva) 31:22.29
2 Dave Roper (Cheltenham)        31:40.13
3 Jonathan Poole Serpentine RC)  31:49.94
Race 'A'
1 Ed McGinley (Annandale Striders)  29:53.32
2 Darren Deed (Bedford & County AC) 30:02.38
3 Nick Torry (Serpentine)           30:02.52

The home club Highgate Harriers had two good results. It was in the final stages that Gordon Pearce went away to win the 'C' race. Brahama Pochee did a personal best to come in  6th of the 22 finishers in that race of 34:32.18

Alastair Aitken

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