Night of the 10,000m PBs -
21 May 2016
I’d heard great things about the ‘Night of the 10,000m PBs’ over the past few years, but hadn’t been able to get down to see for myself. It’s hosted by Highgate Harriers and is completely free for spectators. They put on a bit of a festival with music, beer and food which makes for a brilliant atmosphere.
When I saw it was being used for the Rio Olympics trials this year I knew I had to be there. I wanted to run, but I’m not quick enough to have a sub 32 minute qualifying time. Fortunately, I was able to get in as one of the reserves after someone dropped out.
My running has been going really well and with a 16.10 5k last week I was confident I could beat my 34.35 PB. When the start lists came out I was slightly disappointed to be in race 1 (which was won in 33.50 last year, but the 2nd place runner was over a minute behind) as I wanted to run a PB and I thought the best way to do that was to be around runners slightly quicker than me.
The event has pacemakers, the front one in my race was due to run 4km in 33.30 pace; which I thought was perfect. I was really nervous in the build up to the race, but as soon as the gun went off I felt good. I sat behind the pacemaker and tried to get into an even rhythm. 25 laps can be very daunting, but I just relaxed and enjoyed the occasion. I had brilliant support (as well as my wife Sarah and brother Owen) as Kas and family had come down, Simon was already there for his race and Chris Norman was there too. I don’t remember a lot from the first few laps, but I was in the lead pack of three behind the pacemaker; our splits were consistent but I began to worry about how I would do after 4km without the pacer. I didn’t need to worry though, 4km came and went and the pacer told me he’d stay until 8km. By now the others in the pack couldn’t keep with us so it was just the two of us. I relaxed and the time flew by, I just simply loved being part of this brilliant event. As we hit 8km I went for it, determined to get the PB I had come for and gradually ramped up my speed; it was beginning to hurt as I came round the last bend but a strange sensation suddenly happened that even though I thought I was on my own I felt someone on my shoulder; so I went for it. I must have looked completely mental and this picture confirms it:
I was ecstatic to cross the line in first place with a new personal best of 33.17; exactly what I had come for! Then, it all got a bit surreal. Usually following any race I would shake hands with all the other competitors and clap in those finishing, but I was whisked off in front of a camera for an interview beamed on the big screen to everyone at the track. I was asked numerous questions about my form, my aims and even what my favourite distance was! I’ve seen some photos of me on the big screen, but I’m not sure anyone actually heard what I said! After that had finished suddenly Alastair Aitken from Highgate Harriers came from nowhere to put a tape recorder in front of me, to do a full interview (which you can read here). I was trying my best to give good answers, but I was knackered and hadn’t yet been offered any water! Finally, after a nice chat with Alastair I was ushered into the marquee next to the track and asked to do an interview on the live stream. I was asked more running related questions (that was broadcast live online), but all I remember is when they asked me if I’d be joining in with lane 3 ‘beerncheer’ I informed them that I could see my wife and she already had a can and of course I’d be joining her! The rest of the evening was superb; I was able to get a free massage trackside and watch clubmate Simon Coombes finish 19th in race 2 in 33.15. After that the races got quicker and quicker. It was such a joy to be allowed onto lane 3 to really get behind the athletes (and beer was only £2 a can). Sadly we had to head home before the elite women’s race which was the highlight of the night; I’m sure you’ve read all about it! I encourage everyone to get down to next year’s event, it really is superb.