‘Cool athletics’ returns to Hampstead Heath

Highgate Harriers’ much-loved Night of the 10,000m PB’s is returning to the Parliament Hill athletics track on Saturday, May 14.

Thursday, 24th March — By Steve Barnett

Jess Martin - credit Andy Waterman

Jess Martin on her way to winning the senior women’s 10k race at the 2016 Night of the 10,000m PB’s [Andy Waterman]

CIRCLE the date in your diary: the “carnival of aerobic love” is back, and the free race day that’s “not all about the running” promises to be bigger and better than ever before.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the Covid outbreak, Highgate Harriers’ much-loved Night of the 10,000m PB’s is returning to the Parliament Hill athletics track on Saturday, May 14.

Acting as a Team GB qualifier ahead of the World Championships in the US later this year, the showcase will, of course, attract some of the biggest names in long-distance running.

But organiser Ben Pochee insists that the not-for-profit event will have something for everyone.

“We have this headline event – all big and glossy – happening on Hampstead Heath, and it’s completely run by volunteers, and people can come along and watch world-class athletics completely free.

“But it’s not just for hardcore athletics fans. There will be a whole host of family fun on the day, including a full-on circus theatre show – and afterwards the performers will take their circus tomfoolery into the crowds. There will also be pyrotechnics, 30 drummers, a DJ, and much, much more.”

With spectators cheering athletes on against a backdrop of music and entertainment, Ben added: “We are really looking forward to another 25-lap party and this year promises to be better than ever.

“So come along and enjoy what is a carnival of aerobic love right on your doorstep. I want people to see how cool athletics is, and how great the athletics community is.”

Alongside the fun and frolicking there is some serious racing on show. This year the Night of the 10,000m PB’s – which has become one of the highlights of the athletics calendar – will incorporate the British trials for the World Championships, which take place in Oregon in July, and the European 10,000m Cup, which will be held in France at the end of May.

And – as if the buzz from the crowd at “the Glastonbury of 10k running” and such vital time trials isn’t already enough – this year, for the first time ever, the senior races will also be a dash for cash.

Ben explained: “We’re offering £5,000 to the men’s “A” race winner if they better our event record time of 27:36.52, which was set by Richard Ringer in 2018, and £5,000 to the women’s “A” race winner if they better our event record of 31:08.13, which was set by Steph Twell in 2019.

“We have introduced the cash prizes to entice the best international runners in the world, which in turn will push the British athletes to go even faster.

“We want to unearth new, unprecedented success stories and for our British athletes to reach their fastest times possible, so we’ve added an extra carrot.”

Ben continued: “Post pandemic we can’t wait to welcome back the nation’s best runners, the grassroots athletic network and our local community to celebrate a truly social and accessible sport.

“Working alongside our partners the City of London Corporation we offer 100 per cent free spectator engagement and a unique opportunity to inspire the next generation of athletes.”

• For more information visit www.nightofthe10kpbs.com or find Night of the 10,000m PB’s on Facebook.

Related Articles