Dave Bedford

16 Apr Top British talent lead record entries for Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs

“I’m very excited to be competing this year and will hopefully be competitive. The field already looks strong and I’m sure there will be a few more entries yet – so I’m looking forward to a good honest race and hopefully PBs all round.”

Leading British junior, Jonny Davies, has his eyes fixed on the European U23 qualification prize at the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs. With exactly one month to go, Jonny is one of a record number of entries for the third running of the fast-growing event.

The upward popularity of the twenty-five lap running festival at Parliament Hill shows no sign of diminishing following the spectacles of the last two years. With an extra race added this year – and all six full to the brim – organisers are now running a reserve list that has already hit double-figures.

Is track 10,000m racing finally swinging back into fashion?

The championship events on May 16th resemble something of a who’s who of top British club talent. The recent additions of English National Cross Country champion Lily Partridge, GB internationals, Aly Dixon and Sonia Samuels, alongside the previously entered Rhona Auckland sees the women’s field shaping up to be just as competitive as it was twelve months ago.

With GB international, Adam Hickey, and last year’s third-place finisher, Jonny Mellor, joining the more youthful likes of Davies and Liverpool’s Matt Shirling among the elite male entries, 2015’s championship events promise to deliver the same edge-of-the-track excitement as the winning efforts of Andy Vernon and Jo Pavey’s last year.

Race organiser, Ben Pochee, is once again over the moon with the response to the volunteer-driven event and can’t wait to serve up all the ingredients currently bubbling away in a hot broth of personal best potential.

“’I’ve been a Highgate Harrier since the mid-1980s – inspired by 1984 LA Olympics and jetpack man – and have never been as amped as I am by the renewed racing momentum & grassroots support our club 10,000m event is enjoying.

The fact we’re now attracting exciting young GB racing talent like Jonathan Davies & Rhona Auckland into the world of 25 lap racing truly makes me feel the opportunity for our sport are boundless, and if I feel so optimistic, hopefully so do our PB-hunting athletes.”

“Completely unique atmosphere”

The British and English Championships will once again be incorporated and will also serve as the qualifying race for the European Team Championships in June. The “A” races will also act as the trials for this summer’s European U23 Championships to be held in Tallinn, Estonia.

London-based running retailer and sports management company, Run Fast, will be providing pacemakers for the championship races as well as adding to the festival atmosphere of the event with a stall trackside.

Throw in the launch of the May edition of running magazine, Like the Wind, live band and motivational music that already features such eclectic selections as Linkin Park, Chemical Brothers and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the night promises to match the efforts and numerous personal best performances of twelve months ago.

The “completely unique atmosphere” and having “spectators so close” in lane three were the features that stood out for Davies from the video footage of the event twelve months ago.

Dancing in the moonlight

The twenty year old – whose motivational tune of choice for the night is Toploader’s Dancing in the Moonlight for the simple reason that it’s “just a really catchy song” – is looking to capitalise on another successful winter that saw him successfully defend his national cross country title as well as run a debut 29:18 on the roads at the Trafford 10k last month.

“I achieved everything I set out to do this winter despite a bit of injury and illness disrupting training before Christmas. To make the Euro XC U23 team after that gave me some confidence and I carried this through to my post-Christmas target of defending the National, which I did comfortably.

Trafford was just a bit of fun towards the end of the season so to run fast was a massive boost. I am focused on both the 5000m and 10,000m this season and hopefully will run fast over both events.”

Davies, who claimed European Junior 5,000m bronze in 2013 and has PBs of 3:44.53 and 14:09.46 over 1500m and 5,000m respectively, has proven himself to be a dab hand over the longer distances and the 29:30 U23 qualification mark should be within his grasp.

European ambitions

The Rob McKim-coached man is still to decide which event he might tackle at the championships in Tallinn, which run from 9-12 July, but has shifted his racing plans around to give himself the best chance of achieving both qualifying marks next month.

“I’m racing in Belgium over 5000m the week after the Night of the PBs now rather than the weekend of the 16th. The Euro qualifying mark for 10,000m is definitely the aim and I have obviously already run it at the Trafford 10k on the road, which wasn’t under the best conditions.

I think I’m definitely capable of going inside 29.30 at Highgate. I’m still not completely decided on which event I would like to go for at the Euro U23 out of 5,000m and 10,000m but the aim is to get the mark for both events.”

The finishing touches are being made to provide the best possible atmosphere and racing conditions come May 16th. With a special VIP guest rumoured to be presenting awards on the night for the Best Break of the Race, the special support promises to drive a new wave of personal bests on May 16th.