Elite British runners set sights on London 2017 at Night of the 10,000m PBs
A stellar field of talent looking to qualify for the World Athletics Championships in London this summer will line up at the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs at Parliament Hill, London, on Saturday night (20 May) in what promises to be another thrilling night of action at the event which has transformed 10,000m track running in the UK and is now the official qualifier for the World Championships.
The event is free to spectators and offers them a unique chance to watch the action from Lane three of the track with the back straight designated a #Lane3BeerNCheer zone.
Guest speakers at this year’s event include the IAAF president Seb Coe, world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe and the snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan who is a keen runner himself.
The event is funded by London Marathon Events as part of its programme to help improve the standard of British distance running.
The women’s race promises to be particularly entertaining with all three of last year’s GB Olympic 10,000m representatives - Jo Pavey, Jess Martin and Beth Potter – lining up to race.
Martin was a surprise winner at last year’s event and will be looking to back-up her breakthrough season in 2016 with a similarly impressive showing this year, while Pavey is hoping to bounce back from having to pull out of the Virgin Money London Marathon at the 16 mile mark.
That trio will be joined by Sonia Samuels, another British Rio Olympian, who was 30th in the marathon for Great Britain last summer and is now dropping back down to 10,000m.
Adding some European quality to the mix is Jessica Augusto, who represented Portugal at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, while a whole host of other Brits will fancy their chances of breaking into the team for the London World Championships.
These include Kate Avery and Elinor Kirk, who represented England and Wales respectively over 10,000m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Katrina Wootton and Louise Small.
The men’s field includes two of Britain’s 10,000m representatives in Rio, the defending champion Ross Millington and Andy Vernon, former European silver medallist over the distance.
Millington has run the fastest 10km on the road by a Brit this year (28:46 in Holland) while Vernon has the fastest 10,000m track time (27:58 in California earlier this month) so it promises to be a thrilling tussle between the two.
Welshman Dewi Griffiths was not far behind Vernon in that race in Palo Alto, clocking 28:16 and will be another hoping to be at the sharp end of the race.
The men’s race has also attracted some top European athletes with Irish Olympian Paul Pollock, Dutchman Bart van Nunen and Spain’s Ricardo Serrano making the trip to London hoping the quality field will push them to qualifying times of their own.
The first two British runners in each race will automatically be selected for the World Championships, if they also have achieved the qualifying standard of 27:45 for men and 32:15 for women.
Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000 PBs race director Ben Pochee said: “We look forward to welcoming elite athletes and Lane 3 spectators as they combine to create an electric racing atmosphere. The support from London Marathon Events has been pivotal and I’m excited to showcase what the partnership can yield in terms of British athletes realising their potential and 25 lap inspiration for the next generation.”
Now in its fifth year, the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs has become arguably the best track meet in Europe for 10km running outside major championships and is supported by London Marathon Events.
“London Marathon Events funds an extensive annual programme with the aim of improving the standard of British distance running,” said Hugh Brasher, Event Director for London Marathon Events. “We’re delighted to again support Ben’s work on the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs which has done so much for 10k runners.”
The event begins with an inter-schools relay at 13:30 followed by five races, with the VIP seminar at 18:30 followed by the British Championships races at 20:15 for the women and 21:00 for the men.