Jenny Nesbitt reflects on her Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs experience

Have you ever wondered what it is like running 25 laps of the track, one after the next, with no recovery? Have you ever wondered what it is like running 25 laps of the track, one after the next, with no recovery and over 2000 spectators in lane 3?

Although both are tough going, the latter is something you would once never have considered. Well, that’s all changed now. Last Saturday night, at the home track of Highgate Harriers, Ben Pochee’s Olympic trials dream came to life, and boy was it good.

The 10,000m – an event until recently looked upon as the least favoured of them all. Only back in 2013 was there one women entered in the British Championships 10,000m and even then, there were only 13 men and a handful of spectators. Fast forward three years and WOW… I have never stepped on to a track where I have actually had to push my way though the crowds!

jenny_nesbitt_highgateWhat better way to ‘inspire a generation’ than letting the spectators get so close to the athletes. I can assure you there are no other track events where you can basically reach out and touch athletes. With the likes of Jo Pavey, a four-time Olympian, standing just meters away from aspiring young athletes, you might think that they had paid a fortune to be in that position. NO… this was even completely free to the public! Not one penny was needed to get on to lane 3. Instead, the thousands spectating were spending their pennies at the back straight bar. Yes, you read that correctly… back straight bar.

Amazingly innovative. Super fun. A back straight bar. A bar in lane 3 of an athletics track. Even cooler was the fact that athletes chasing Olympic qualifying were running THROUGH it. Now this does not happen every day! The Night of the 10,000m PBs has quite literally blown the 2013 10,000m out of the water. Dancers? Yep, they were there. Fire jugglers? Those too. A personalised playlist for each race?.. Sure thing! As for the atmosphere, well that was incredible!

The racing was pretty good too, boosted by the screams from the crowds at every single point around the track. All around the 400m track were crowds, five people deep. I had shivers down my back as I stepped on it. Shivers of excitement radiating from the crowds. Twenty-five laps can seem a very daunting prospect, especially when you want to run them all as fast as you can. But there is something magical about having over 2000 people willing you on.

So, what it is like running 25 laps of the track, one after the next, with no recovery and over 2000 spectators in lane 3? Amazing, that’s what it is. Okay, I shan’t lie, 25 laps is tough. Mentally and physically. But on Saturday night you almost forgot that you were running around that track 25 times. You could feel the crowd, smell the beer and listen to your personal choice of music. I shall even admit to losing count of which lap I was on! And you know what, there is proof that this incredible environment and unbeatable atmosphere works wonders. Two girls qualified for the Olympics, three girls got under the qualifying time and multiple athletes ran PBs. If this isn’t success, then I don’t know what is!

Incredible events like these don’t just appear out of the blue, though. Stacked fields, multiple races, unfaultable organisation and an abundance of beer and food takes masses of hard work, effort and time. Highgate Harriers and Ben Pochee have proven that a little innovation, a lot of hard work and a complete love for the sport can provide evenings that are unforgettable and atmospheres that are unimaginable. They are a credit to the sport and have reignited a distance runner’s love for 10,000m.

Back in 2013, who would have ever thought that on just one evening, six races of 10,000m with over 120 competitors would have ever existed. More than that though, who would have thought that these runners would be supported by over 2000 spectators enjoying a pint on the back straight!

» You can read more from GB international Jenny Nesbitt on her blog at runwithasmileblog.wordpress.com