All eyes on North London for the Night of the 10,000m PBs and Olympic trial

Ask any endurance fan about the Night of the 10,000m PBs and their eyes will light up with memories, excitement, or intrigue. We were lucky enough to attend the 2024 edition last weekend at the newly refurbished home of Highgate Harriers to watch as athletes not only fought for spots on Olympic, European and World Junior teams, but also to improve their own personal bests.

Securing their spots

This summer is set to be exciting with the Olympics and Paralmypic Games just around the corner, and the European and World Junior Championships also on the horizon.

With a packed programme of nine 10,000m races and eight junior 800m races totalling 231 laps of the track, the thousands of spectators packed onto the in-field and sidelines had plenty of action to keep them entertained, with the all-important Olympic trial races topping off the night. In the women’s event it was a yoyo of who would take on race and a perfectly timed sprint finish from Scotland’s Megan Keith to hopefully book her spot on the Olympic team in 31:03.02.

Spectators at Night of the 10,000 PBs

The finale of the night saw Britain’s Olympic and European hopefuls toe the line. After the first couple of laps, it was Preston Harrier’s Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby) who took to the front. As the race progressed, Dever began to pull away and it wasn’t until the final half of the race he had Mohamed Ismael from Djibouti for company. With the lightning hot pace lapped runners began to get in the way, but the race very much remained between Dever and Ismael. It was down to a sprint finish with one lap to go where Ismael outkicked the Englishman to take the race with Dever finishing in a very respectable second place with 27:23.88, ahead of last year’s winner Paul Chelimo in fourth.

Attracting a new audience

Whether you watched on the BBC or were there in person, it was certainly not a night to be missed as people flocked from all over the country to compete and show their support. For competitor of an earlier race Sam Moakes, it was the carnival feel which attracted him:

"Traditionally 10,000m is just laps and laps but they have created a really good spectator event that feels like a festival. You get people to come along and create an incredible atmosphere. Whether they are into running or completely new, it is inspiring to watch and is a great opportunity to champion those at the top of the game too."

Runners on track at Night of the 10,000 PBs

"When the runners finish, you can see what great spirits they are in after having a great time and that is what it should be all about."

We caught up with spectator Benjamin Salmon who lives local to the Heath:

Athlete talking to spectators at Night of the 10,000 PBs

"I was going for a walk and heard the loud drums coming from the track and wondered what was going on. I saw thousands of people cheering and I love to watch sport so came down to the see more. I looked at the programme and saw it was an Olympic trial and free to watch so I stuck around with my friends, enjoyed some beers, and watched the running. I would absolutely love to come back again next year."

Changing the traditional dial

What makes Night of the 10,000m PBs unique is the innovative spectator and athlete experience which the legendary Ben Pochee has created. Since it’s conception in 2013, the event has evolved to become the spectacle which it is today. This is something which event partners On Running are keen to continue to support:

“We have now been involved in this event since 2018,” explained On Running’s Marketing Director Gareth Evans. “At On Running we have closely shared values with Ben and the team on what athletics can be. It should be engaging, fun, inclusive and entertaining and Night of the 10ks perfectly aligns with how we envisage track racing.

“The inspiration we have taken from this event has helped form our On Running Track Nights series which has been rolled out across Europe with Paris and Vienna coming up shortly."

"Who knows where this event can take us, every year the crowds have got bigger, the performances better and I’m so excited to see where this event will go in the future but also other events across the country who try to adopt this successful format.”

General view of Night of the 10,000 PBs

Cherry Alexander, UK Athletics’ Strategic Lead for Major Events added:

"The atmosphere is amazing for everyone which why we choose to integrate the British Championships into these races. It’s the people and the dynamic programme who bring the atmosphere and the noise from the crowds helps the athletes perform well."

"The Olympics this year has definitely brought the buzz, drama and excitement and it’s what everyone has been talking about."

Competition news