Beth Potter and Andy Vernon were first past the post but the once neglected 25-lap event was the biggest winner at the fifth Night of the 10,000m PBs at Highgate Harriers' home track of Parliament Hill Fields on Saturday (20 May). Thousands of fans lined the track and even high-fived Vernon on his last lap in a raucous display of support and affinity with the athletes.
Potter Tri's New Approach
With Sir Mo Farah pre-selected as defending champion the task was simple enough – finish in the first two and gain the qualifying time (27:45) in the elite men's race and selection for the IAAF London World Championships was assured. Easier said than done, of course, and a fickle breeze kept the pace modest in the men's race until Andy Vernon (Aldershot) threw in a sub-64 second lap to break clear at 8k to enjoy his crowd pleasing final lap for 28:21.15.
Dewi Griffiths (Swansea, 28:31.88) held on for second and will now seek the standard abroad along with Vernon to secure his place in the Olympic Stadium in August. Ben Connor (Derby, 28:46.45 PB) was third Briton behind Samuel Barata (Portugal, 28:40.19) and Spain's Ricardo Serrano (28:46.38).
The women's World Trial concluded the seven race programme and as darkness fell the atmosphere became even more intense and exciting. Triathlete Potter (Shaftesbury Barnet) traded places with fellow Scot Steph Twell (Aldershot), who was making her 10,000m debut.
Potter, who has reduced her training mileage recently to concentrate on triathlon, stormed away from everyone in the final kilometre to dip well under the World Championship standard with 32:04.63. In contrast, Twell slipped an agonising 1.23 seconds outside the required mark as she crossed the line in 32:16.23, with Katrina Wootton (Coventry, 32:27.47) third and also in need of a fast race to gain selection.
Jo Pavey (Exeter, 32:42.93) was fourth and will seek her place at 5000m in the UK Trials at Birmingham in July, having dropped out of the Virgin Money London Marathon in April.
Innovations at Parliament Hill included the proximity of the crowd in lane three; a double-decker bus on the infield; flames and fireworks at the finish and a tented marquee dubbed the 'tunnel of lactic love' that athletes passed through each lap. Once again the Night of 10,000m PB's delivered with 138 of the 199 athletes competing recording lifetime bests, owing much to the magnificent crowd support.
Results and details are available at the Highgate Harriers website.
Images courtesy Highgate Harriers