23 Feb Every athletics fan & his dog invited to annual aerobic knees-up on May 16th

Entries are now open for the third annual Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs and race director, Ben Pochee, is inviting every athletics fan and his dog to pen Saturday 16th May firmly in their diary to help build on the rip-roaring success of 2014.

Despite wet and windy conditions, last year’s event built spectacularly on the original to deliver five races of competitive track 10,000m action.

In terms of sequels, the night was very much more Empire Strikes Back than Anchorman 2 as over one hundred athletes from across the country tackled the 25-lap distance and over three-quarters went away with personal bests.

Hoping to crank up the atmosphere a notch or three on last year’s event, this year’s act will see six races plus the London Inter-Borough Schools 10,000m relay. Pochee is hoping the athletics community can help catapult the event into the realms of premier track 10,000m event in Europe.

Annual aerobic knees-up

“I believe our athletics club community can take ownership and shape the headline making destiny of this non-commercial event,” Pochee enthuses. “By coming together in lane three for our annual aerobic knees-up, we can demonstrate to a new wider audience just how achingly cool our sport can be.

So please invite non-running friends, puff your chest out and show them what you really get up to at weekends when you ‘go jogging’.”

The addition of the British and English Championships helped push up the quality spectacularly at the sharp end twelve months ago. The Highgate Harriers-hosted event led to two of the more memorable British performances away from major championships in recent years and helped kick-start a summer of success for the pair.

Who can forget Jo Pavey’s classy return to the track for the first time since London 2012 in which she comfortably bested a field including then European Cross Country champion Sophie Duarte? Or Andy Vernon’s second-half solo effort that saw him clock 28:26.59 and secure his second European Championship qualification standard of the early-season?

The unique atmosphere generated by the motivational music, knowledgeable commentary, jumbo-screen Vincosport live action and hairs-on-the-back-of-neck trackside support generated by 1,000 spectators two-deep from lane three created an unforgettable night of British 10,000m racing.

Driving up standards

Hot on the heels of the record-breaking English National Cross Country Championships at the same Parliament Hill venue last weekend, Pochee is hoping the event can inspire in much the same way and build a legacy of its own along the way.

With the Scottish Athletics 10,000m event in April and BMC Trafford Track 10k Festival last September, the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs has helped boost somewhat the previously flailing distance.

Five of the UK’s top-20 fastest male times and six of the top-20 women’s clockings came from the Parliament Hill event and Pochee is pleased other events are getting on board to help further drive up standards in British 10,000m running.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have the talent to witness a seismic shift in British 10,000m standards. But to convert this potential we need to provide a unique PB platform that can incentivise athletes to race together so they mutually benefit and help push each other to set new benchmarks.

And with our event incorporating the European Cup 10,000m GB trials, with accessible qualifying times of 29:39 and 34:42, I believe we have the magic ingredients to see many athletes put the PB icing on a breakthrough cake.”

Last year’s Night of 10,000m PBs sold out far in advance of the closing date, underlining the thirst for quality 10km track racing in the UK. The reserve list went well into double-figures and, whilst the number of races will be increased from five to six this year, entries are still expected to sell-out.

Both the South of England and Midland Counties cross country champions, Ben Tickner and Alastair Watson, have already signed up for the race. So, if you are a sub-32min man or sub-37:30min woman looking for a “fast, flat, traffic-free & accurately measured course” on which to update your 10,000m best, you have until March 15th to secure your place before entries open to a wider audience.

Enter here: http://highgate.athletics-uk.org