Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Night of the 10,000 PBs (May 2014)

The event incorporated the English Championships and were Trials for the European Championships. Also, people from abroad were trying to make the standard too, as were some runners for the Commonwealth Games. The only problem was the weather was not good with blustery winds and rain making it a bit on the chilly side but the actual 10,000m put on by Highgate Harriers organiser Ben Pochee for the second year, was an unqualified success with spectator interest and music to boot and heralds a new dawn for British 10k running with enthusiastic spectator support with music to help.
The man who was the last British World Record holder, some 41 years ago and now living in Hampstead, David Bedford OBE, presented the prizes which put icing on the cake.
 This  year for the first time the event was amalgamated with British Athletics and the Event Leader Endurance for that, Martin Rush, had this to say  "Ben Pochee of Highgate Harriers did a 'Great' job last year in getting the event going."
Martin continued "By pulling the 10,000m out of the main trials then putting it earlier. That gave people the opportunity for some 5000m runners, who are targeting the 5000m maybe, to come and do the 10,000 as well"

   Race 1

1 Thomas Stevens of Cambridge & Coleridge AC 32:37.35
2 Nelson Stuart (Eastern Vets AC) 33:21.85
3 Alex Horton (Barnet & District AC) 33:25.86
(22 Ran)

1 Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) 36:22.77
2 Becky Penty (Highgate Harriers) 36:59.05
3 Alex Gounelas (Eton Manor AC) 37:59.48.

THOMAS STEVENS:- "I was 30 seconds inside my personal best. It is such a rare opportunity for someone like me to run a 10k track race, as just an average runner. I ran London, a PB, 2:28:54 as opposed to 2:34.30 PB last year. I was chuffed to bits with it so, coming here and running a good 10k was nice icing on the cake. It is a rare opportunity to do 10,000m. I can't understand why it is not more popular as an event."
"It is perfect for you metonymically going. When you are not racing properly and keeping up with the pacemakers (Ben Noad who was 43rd in the World cross country was the pacemaker). He did a fantastic job. I want to thank Highgate for putting this on as it is a rare opportunity. Hopefully this will bring more in."
DANIELLE FEGAN:- Her best was 37:01 in 2013 and in this she did 36:22.77. She is 24
Fegan belongs to Armagh AC, Northern Ireland. "It is a very good club and my coach is here to-day."
"I started running two years ago. I ran at school, then went to University and decided to come back to it."
What did she think of the idea of the race?
"Brilliant. There is nothing like this at home in Ireland so it is really the only opportunity of doing a 10,000 on the track. There is only one 10k in Ireland that we can do. It is not a Championship so it is good here to-day."

Race 2

LEE Van Haeften (Herne Hill Harriers) 31:37.19
2 Will Mackay (Bedford & County AC) 31:40.41
3 Gordon Pearce (Highgate Harriers) 32:11.36
(25 ran).
Lee Van Haeften also runs in Ireland. His best for 5k was 14:59.97 in 2010 but he had not done a 10k track event before.

Race 2

1 Sean Fontana (Victoria Park Glasgow) 30:09.21
2 Ian Bailey (Aldershot Farnham & District) 30:15.04
3 Shaun Dixon (Highgate Harriers) 30:16.78
and 4th of 23 starters was Kojo Kyreme of Shaftesbury in 30:26.24.

SHAUN DIXON 3rd After he considered he had a poor season this year, except for the first ATW Met League.
He was  4th in the 'National' the previous year. He must be pleased that he is on his way back from to-days run?

   "Yes I am. I moved house yesterday so I have been lugging boxes up and down stairs so I am so knackered so I was so surprised what happened tonight. I wanted to be so focused.
It was an exciting race with the three of you battling it out for nearly all the way with a PB for you, improving on your 31:01.59 of last year!
"I am delighted after a week from hell. I am coming back, I know I am. I have moved back to my personal training job so, now I am running a lot more and recovering better. I know I am not that far away and have not been for the last few months. I still think I have got a long way to go."
IAN BAILEY (21) 2nd - He had a wonderful run winning the Southern last year at Parliament Hill.
"It is a happy hunting ground this place. It was a massive PB today 30:15.04. That was my first proper 10k on the track because the last proper 10k was at BUCS a few years ago, which was a tactical slow race.
"Towards the end I heard the crowd were against me as, they were cheering for Shaun. I  knew he was just sitting there. I was going to give it all on the last few laps but I would use the crowd to keep me going along and then the guy who won passed me.
"It is on the track I want to improve on."
"Shaun and I were running together on the relays and it was good to have him in the race, someone I could run with."
The winner JOHN FONTANA from Scotland.
"I have never run a 10k before."
"I actually started running when I was 16. I was overweight. I started running to lose weight. My Mum was better than me at running. My main focus was to beat my Mum Lynn Fontana at first. She ran 10k road races for Charity. It stemmed from there. I lost weight and I went to the Glasgow Sports at Bellhouston."
" I moved from Glasgow to Teddington- St Marys to train with the best in Britain"
"I made an amazing journey."
"I am a Personal Trainer at Fitness First at Erdington".
"Everyone of the family and friends have made sacrifices for me to be here, training partners, girl friends, everyone has made sacrifices."
Was he impressed with this meeting with all the music, food, drink and spectators allowed on the outside lanes to support the athletes. Something not done before with the event as a serious competition over 10k on the track in the UK?
   "I prepared for this race in Kenya for five weeks so, I really wanted to make this race the pinnacle of my season. I made this the most important race of the season so far. I really put all my eggs in one basket to come out and do well. The pacemaker was spot on. It was a bit windy but you can't plan for that. All the things that you could control went absolutely perfectly.It was a pleasure."

Race 4

1 Jo Pavey (Exeter Harriers) 32:11.04
2 Sophie Duarte (CA BALMA, France) 32:36.32
3 Beth Potter (Shaftesbury Barnet) 32:36.3
4 Fionnuala Britton (Eire) 32:45.69
5 Iwona Lewandowska (Marshall Milton Keynes AC and Poland) 33:08.95
6 Rhona Auckland (Banchory- Stonehaven AC) 33:09.58
(18 ran)
In this race for much of the race Pavey and Duarte were together till Pavey moved right away in the closing stages with Potter overtaking Lewandowska for third.
IWONA LEWANDOWSKA (4th) was unhappy with her result and her Manager MARCIN FUNDALEJ said "We were hoping here she would do 32:20 but obviously she had minor injury of her hip and she is just coming back so, probably, in a couple of weeks time she will be fit enough to do that again. She could not achieve what she was hoping to do and she found she could not move as much forward. It was windy and if you have that and it is cold you feel it"
JOANNE PAVEY (2nd on the All Time British Ranking list with 30:53.50 and her time at Parliament Hill Fields was a clear British Veteran Record for an over 40 year old, as Jo is 41)
"It has been very special coming back to athletics for her. Having a baby must have meant a lot to her."

"Definitely - I am really pleased and my husband Gavin is so supportive, as we run together and he looks after the children when I am training and we spend more family time together, rather than other pressures like working in an office all day. My little one is only 8 months now. I was still actually breast feeing till five weeks ago.'
What did the race at Parliament Hill mean for her.
"I feel absolutely fortunate to be able to have two little children and be 40 and still out there running on the track. I am really thrilled about it. I am quite surprised really that I have been able to get on the track so soon after."
At Parliament Hill Fields track she had to make a definite burst to get away from the girl who won the last European cross country Championship Sophie Duarte and the previous European cross country winner for two years Fionnuala Britton was also in the race. Durate is young but you had the experience, particularly as Jo had been an Olympian four times.?
"I did not know really how to play the race because, I did not know what toll the wind would take on it. I had in my mind what the qualifying time was (33.00) and I did not want to take any risks not getting the time. So, I had lap times memorised and I very much wanted to stick, as closely to those lap times, as I could. I was not really sure till I started running, it would be possible with the conditions. The crowd support was just so awesome and it helped me. That motivation."
Of all the races she had done in her life ,at four Olympics. The first back in 2000. What meant most to her of all those races?
"I suppose Olympic-wise my highest Olympic position was 5th in Athens (Over 5000m in 14:57.87)".
"I suppose, in a way, a good race was when I finished 4th in Osaka (Over 10,000 in the World Championships in 32:03.31 just behind Kara Goucher of USA- 32:2.05). It was frustrating as well as I lost by one second or less to win a medal. I think getting the European Silver"
She was second in the Commonwealth in 2006 but the European Silver must have been special? (European 10,000 in Helsinki 2012 1 Dulce Felix (Portugal ) 31:44.75; 2 Jo Pavey (GBR) 31:49.03; 3rd Olga Skrypak (UKR) 31:51.32) "I think, actually funnily enough, one of my favourite races was my 5k PB that was in Brussels, just because I think that is my best PB of all the distances I have done and that meant a lot to me to get under 14:40 (Ivo van Damme Memorial IAAF Golden League 14:39.96 25th of August 2006). That felt really special because I think of all the races I have done that was the best time I have ever run". That ranked her second 'All Time' UK Rankings.
Jo Pavey was an English Schools Under 15 Champion, has suffered quite a lot of injuries since then but gone on to overcome them all.  She has even run 2:28.24 for a marathon in 2011 in the London. So I realised she did love running so what were her comments about starting in the sport?
"I suppose I started running more seriously when I was 14 and I was fortunate enough to win the English Schools when I was 14 and ran 4:27 for 1500 and I supposed that showed that maybe I could be a runner but I did not have the confidence in a way because I knew what the seniors were doing and I was way off that. 'so you're young and you will get stronger' people said but I just could not imagine being able to run close to 4 minutes - How on earth can I do that and I went away and got injured and things like that. My husband and I went backpacking around the World. I had worked for a physiotherapist before that, while we were away we trained in the most inspiring locations and got really fit and when I came back, I made the World Championships in Athens (1997) and that was really the start of my Senior career
The Pleasure she gets from Athletics. Having a break recently had probably helped?
  "I think so. It gives you that motivation. It makes you realise how much you love it. I find it quite motivating to start from Scratch , quite interesting to go down the track and sprint as hard as you can do, which is the pace for a lap in order to be able to do 25 laps like that!. Then each week you work away at it, (lap by lap) getting quicker and quicker and quicker. It is exiting to see the escalation of progress. You  have good sessions and bad sessions. To start from scratch towards being an athlete again was very motivating."
Jo Pavey is a heroine to some athletes so what were her idols
 "Obviously people like Coe, Cram and I remember watching those athletes when I was young also people like Liz Mccolgan, so gutsy to win the World Championships also Kelly Holmes  as she was so supportive to me when I was in the team. She helped me through those years of my career and I appreciate that a lot."


The race for first place was in doubt till Andy Vernon took off with a few laps to go, at a time Chris Thompson, his clubmate would still be feeling it a bit from his 2:11 London marathon and it was a decisive move and Thompson just got home before Jonny Mellor but all were within 29 minutes. Thompson had been down in 7th and 8th place till about half way then Vernon and Thompson went off together with Vernon, the man in form, unlikely to be caught in the latter stages.
1 Andy Vernon (Aldershot Farnham & District AC) 28:26.59
2 Chris Thompson (Aldershot Farnham & District AC) 28:49.77
3 Johnny Mellor (Liverpool Harriers AC) 28:52.90
4 Matthew Hynes (North York Moors AC) 29:20.07
5 Dewi Griffiths (Swansea H) 29:22.17
6 Andrew Lemoncello (Fife Athletics Club) 29:26.35
(32 Started)

   ANDY VERNON (Andy ran into the Championships with good recent form. Having run 13:11.50 at Palo Alto, USA on 10th of May. It was at the same venue at the same Payton Jordan meet at Palo Alto, California, where he ran his 10,000 PB in 2012 of 27:53.65.His fastest 1500 was at the BMC Watford Elite Meeting on the 14th of June 2008 with a time of 3:42.98)
   This year he won the British Indoor 3000 title. His fastest time for that was 7:45.49 coming 4th in his heat in the World Indoor Championships. Did that give him a bit of sharpness and a new vista
"I went to the World Indoors hoping to get into the Final but it was not the 'Be all and End all'. I was not thinking this is what I need to do. Luckily I did make the Final. Being in a first round and a second round, so close together, which they have in those Championships. It was good to kind of to at least get an idea of some recovery strategy. I ran a PB in the first round and obviously I ran very well. It is such a quick turn around for recovery and get back into it, deal with the nerves and build up again for a race two days later. It was all just a learning curve. In that respect it helped me a lot. I did not do any specific training for it. I carried on my cross-country training and base training (He was 3rd in the European CCC back in December) - I wondered then that he would not have quite the speed after his type of base training?
"That showed in the Final in a way. But then he was third in the European cross country which was a good result! "The Winter has just gone very well. The whole last 8 months or so. The European record on the roads over 4 miles; I did not run a 'Great' time but a descent race against a good British field in the Great South Run but it was a windy day so it was not going to be a good time; won the Trial 3rd in the European, had a couple of good races. I did well in the first indoor race that I did in Glasgow and then won the Trial and the Final Indoors and 13:11.50 last week (5k in Palo Alto on the 4th of May), such a good spell!."
What was his feeling of Ben Pochee putting this meeting on?
 "My honest opinion. I think it is 'Great' for Grass roots running. We need events like this, preferably without the wind. I think it is good but when you come to trial races for 10,000m I don't think we have quite got the peak. The Americans have got so many athletes that are quick and can make the team so, they need a trial. The standards have changed. The standard was 28:40 this year yet, 4 years ago I ran 28:11 and was not selected for the team. There was a spot free and they did not select me on 28:11."
Something missing with the selection criteria then?
"It is good it is 28:40 now, it will give more people a chance of getting there but if you are thinking of medals that if you are just a 28:40 runner.....!"
Did he think you have got to do altitude training to become World Class?
  "I don't think you need it but it does definitely help. What has helped me wherever I have been. At altitude for 4 weeks I was able to get everything out of my life and concentrate on running. That is a really good thing for me as, I work part time. It is not strenuous work. It definitely helps to get away and do altitude training or whatever."
It is also mind over matter for an athlete of your calibre.
"You have got to go out there. Last night Chris Thompson and I were headlining the event which put a little bit more pressure on you. You have got to have the mental stability to deal with that."
I then remarked 'You certainly have got that!

CHRIS THOMPSON (The 4th fastest ever British 10,000m runner with 27:27.36 in May 2011. Other things I have noted. In 2004 that he ran 3:41.04 and 3.41 51 for 1500m in BMC races, the year he won the BUSA 1500 and the AAA's 5000)
 "I first started running when I was at school my Pe Teacher got me into it."
Second behind his friend Mo Farah in the European in 2010 in Barcelona something I felt must always be special to him! (1 Mo Farah 28:24.99; 2 Chris Thompson 28:27.33; 3 Daniele Meucci (Italy)  28:27.33).
  "That was one of and still is. It meant everything. When you are a kid and growing up you dream of achieving something like that with Mo being a 'Great' friend. We came 1 and 2 in the Juniors in the Under 23's and to imagine we could do it as seniors and we did it. There were so many British supporters there as well. It was really a phenomenally 'Great' night. It would be good to emulate that again at a European and 'if' Mo did it with Andy & me there is a chance we could have a one, two, three."
It must be good for Chris to have achieved so many different things in the season so far but it is difficult for him to run very hard over 10,000, not very long after running his first marathon in the London in 2:11:19.
"There is no way I could have done much more than I did to-night."
Andy must have known so he could put the pressure on and made that vital break.
"Once we got a gap I was happy to help but my legs were dead."
I said I could see he was reserving his energies a lot by running back in 6th, 7th and 8th in the earlier laps
    "I was only ever going to go to the front if second was safe and it was- then it wasn't so I had to check back and sit on Johnny (Mellor) and I feel bad about it but I had to do it."
     It is an amazing event that Ben and British Athletics have achieved together
     "The event was amazing. It was an incredibly 'Great' event and it helps the race go very quickly. I had been a bit concerned that it was odd but, there were pockets of cheer leaders for all the different runners. It just helped you mentally get through it. It was really good. Especially the big screen and stuff. I have been on some big stages before but it was awesome to be in Britain doing that. If we can keep making that bigger and bigger I think you will get a lot of people. Even people that aren't necessarily athletes come to watch that. It was great fun."
Having done the first 19 London's I am was obviously interested in how Chris coped with this year's one when he did 2:11 at his first attempt..
  "It was hard. It was good. The pace felt alright. It was running for that length of time. I had not run much more than 16 miles in a run before I started training for that so, for those three months getting ready for that. It was a big shock to the system to run the marathon."
I thought it was a little bit unfair to get so many of the World's fastest marathon runners to run against Mo rather than just say one or two, as it was his first and a hard enough thing to crack?
  "It is a brutal event. If it had not been so windy he would have got the British record. I rather fancy my chances of running a hell of a lot quicker. It was deceptively windy in the wrong places."
 "It was difficult to immediately run against say, half a dozen World class men, who have done 2.4 to  2.5!
  "It was not long ago that there was only one in the World who could do that. It is just the nature of the event. You have that many good runners but there is a whole host of them at home, that is the problem. You have got so many good athletes out there. They did actually bring in some 'B' runners.
It is just that is the standard. The state we are in. If you are on the start line of any race you are in, you are racing against 2.4 to 2.5 men; Sub 27' 10k runners, 12.55  5K men. It is just where the way the sport is. The marathon, I feel is like 'The Event' at the moment. There are so many fast runners. It is not as fast as the top end on the track but a marathon is brutal. These guys what they can do!."
Did he see himself doing the 10,000 before doing another marathon
"I want to have another go. I don't know if I will have a go at running a fast one.
I'll certainly do the Europeans as I have got the selection and go from there."
I thought as a clubman watching my club (Highgate) in the Southern road relay at Milton Keynes and supporting them, it was still a little bit of magic for me to see Chris come through at great speed doing easily the fastest long leg!
  "The relays are probably my favourite events."

Alastair Aitken

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