With new 10k runs popping up all over the place, there was a special evening of 10,000 metre races at Parliament Hill track on Saturday. The second year of this new event, organised by Highgate Harriers, had grown to such an extent that both England Athletics and UK Athletics chose it to include their respective National Championships for men and women, which were also the official trials for the Commonwealth Games and European Championships later this summer.
On a personal level, it was so pleasing to have this event at what is my nearest track, the place where I coach every week and the track that I did many sessions on, and a few races, back in the day. It’s a venue passed by hundreds of runners every day as the cover the routes in and around Hampstead Heath. The weather wasn’t the best, rainy squalls and, more frustrating for the runners, gusty winds, so the times weren’t quite as spectacular as the runners are capable of. That said, it was great to see Jo Pavey, 40 years young and in her first race for nearly two years after the birth of her second child, clock a very impressive 32.11 to win the women’s race. Equally dominant in the men’s race was Andy Vernon, a mid-race surge bringing him home solo in 28.26. This is. I’m sure, the only track meeting in the UK that has five 10k races – and nothing else! With the B race won in 30.09 and the C race in 31.27 it was very much about quality rather than quantity. The big numbers though were in the spectators – the London Corporation who manage the track put the attendance at 900, and indeed the entire track perimeter was crowded with viewers for the championship races. A really inspiring evening all round.