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25 Aug Grassroots-driven BMC Track 10k Festival, organised by Trafford AC, ready for action on September 6th

A golden (and silver) summer over 10,000m at the European Championships in Zurich played a large part in returning Team GB to the top of the medal table for only the third time in the competition’s history and for the first time since 1998.

An impressive championships for Great Britain was marked by unprecedented success in the sprint events but victories for current world and Olympic champion, Mo Farah, and Jo Pavey over 10,000m, plus silver for Andy Vernon and the exciting prospect of Beth Potter, suggest the future for GB over the twenty-five lap distance also looks brighter than it has for some time.

bmclogo-e120 (1)Driving the early stages of a rediscovered enthusiasm for the distance is the club scene in the UK and, in twelve days’ time, the British Milers Club 10k Track Festival, organised by Trafford AC, will host the second quality track 10,000m event in England of the summer.Capture

The first – the second edition of the Highgate Harriers Night of the PBs in May, which this year also incorporated the British and English Championships – provided a unique opportunity for track 10,000m racing; characterised by five races, spectators in lane four, club-branded beer, barbeque and athlete-requested music.

With the success of that event – plus the inaugural GAA Glasgow Miler Meet – Night of 10ks in April – the BMC 10k Track Festival at Longford Park bookends the summer and will also be the fourth stop in the 2014 runbritain Grand Prix, currently headed by Scott Overall and Emma Stepto.

Thirst for the distance remains high and, with over 120 entries received and five or six quality races planned for its first edition, race organiser, Steve Green, is looking forward to the day’s racing.

“I’m really excited by the response shown. We have over 120 entries so far and a really satisfying part of that is around 50% might not have done a track 10k before. So we’re hoping the whole day might encourage more of your less-experienced runners to try track in the future,” said Green.

“I think we’ve got the right balance between quality and quantity in the entries; there’s a perfect balance between the more elite-end, club runners and then the more recreational-end. We’re clashing with the Great North Run, which is on the same weekend and might have had an impact on entries, but we’re happy with the response for the event’s first year.”

The Highgate Harriers-hosted event earlier in the season delivered a quality racing platform for the likes of Vernon, Pavey and Potter ahead of summer championship action; the efforts involved in redefining what track 10,000m could entail no doubt went some way to preparing the athletes for the competitive racing environment they experienced during their summer endeavours.

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Whilst Green isn’t sure there’ll be the same “razzmatazz” as the Parliament Hill event, he has promised a bar, access to lane four for spectators, plus enthusiastic and knowledgeable commentary from the BMC’s Matt Long and Mike Harris, that he hopes will stoke up an atmosphere to drive athletes on to personal bests and help create a real event experience.

“To have two events in the year focussed on driving elite standards as well as providing opportunities for club runners and introducing more recreational runners to the track is encouraging,” acknowledged Green.

“Probably one of the best things about it is that these events are organic and coming from the grassroots, volunteer-led club-scene.”

Twenty-two BMC-registered athletes have currently entered for the event, including London Olympian Scott Overall and GB cross country international Steve Stockton (above). Commonwealth Games marathoner Nick Torry, Kent AC’s John Gilbert and the fastest veteran over 800m this season, Louise Rudd, are also in among the open entry.

Green believes British performances at both the Commonwealth Games and European Championships this summer have shown 10,000m racing is “in vogue” again and he is particularly interested in seeing how Stevie Stockton fares on her debut over the distance on the track on September 6th.

“The performances of Beth Potter and Kate Avery are encouraging as more youngsters seem to be wanting to step up to the distance,” said Green. “Stevie has entered and it’ll be interesting to see what she can do. She’s an exciting prospect, very much in the same mould as Potter and Avery, and has potential to do well.”

That athletes are once more rising to the challenge of the longest track distance is the only way that the efforts to provide such opportunities don’t go to waste. The BMC 10k Track Festival, hosted by Trafford AC, will be streamed live online by Vinco (http://vsprt.com/1BL1zVe) and promises to be another fantastic opportunity for elites and club runners alike to gain racing experience over twenty-five laps of the track.

Entries are still available for the event and can be made via this link: http://www.race-results.co.uk/onlineentries/user/login.php?raceid=1649. The closing date for entries is Sunday 31st August.

The day’s racing is set to kick-off at 1:30pm and there will also be a BMC mile and 1500m steeplechase event, which may see a British record attempt over the rarely-run distance. Full details can be found on the British Milers Club website HERE.

Words: Chris Rainsford
Photo credit: Dave Greenwood