Adam Hickey (Southend, Eamonn Martin) and Nicole Taylor (Tonbridge, Richard Owen) won the England 10,000m titles on a fantastic night of distance racing in Walthamstow.
It was the first time that the FASTFriday event, organised and hosted by Orion Harriers, had incorporated the England 10,000m Championships, and despite wet and blustery conditions the action did not disappoint. Indeed, for the men’s race - which was the last of the night - the rain subsided and the wind dropped, creating perfect conditions for the 25-lap challenge. It was another classic duel between Hickey and Jack Gray (Cambridge and Coleridge, Mark Vile), who have already clashed on the roads in Ipswich and Brighton this year.
The pair hit the front from the gun, closely followed by last year’s England champion Ollie Lockley (Leeds City/Manx), as they went through the first mile in around 4:45. Lockley remained in their wake until the half-way point, at which stage he began to lose touch. Hickey and Gray wouldn’t let the pace drop. Taking it a lap at a time to share the lead, they were clocking consistent sub-70-second 400m splits. When the bell rang they were still just a stride apart, but Hickey surged to decisive effect. While Gray tried to shift up a gear with his arms pumping hard, he was helpless as Hickey sped away to win in 29:08.19 – a personal best and track record. It secured him the English title to go with the Inter-Counties XC crown he already owns. “I always have confidence in my kick but you never know for sure,” he said after the race. “Credit to Jack. We worked together throughout.”
Hickey, a firefighter at Southend Airport, also spoke highly of the event: “Credit to [organiser] Barny Foot as well. He’s been emailing me to get me down here and I’m glad I came. It’s been a great night.”
Gray’s was a well-earned silver, coming home with a personal best time of 29:12.36. Lockley’s battling performance - he ran the second half alone - was rewarded with bronze in 29:26.94.
The women’s race was just as thrilling, as Nicole Taylor took matters on early. With a stiff wind gusting and cold rain falling intermittently, she and GB marathon runner Tracy Barlow (Thames Valley, Tom Craggs) immediately took up positions at the front, with Phoebe Law (Kingston & Poly/St. Mary's Uni, Mick Woods) and Naomi Taschimowitz (Shaftesbury Barnet, Charlotte Fisher) tucked in just behind. Barlow held the lead position behind the pacer for the opening laps, as the front two slowly pulled away from the chasing racers as they passed two miles in 10:45. But when they reached half way, Taylor went to the front and would never surrender the lead. By the time she reached four miles (in around 21:40), her lead over Barlow had built to 40 yards and the gap never looked like diminishing as the remaining laps went by. Taylor stopped the clock on 33:31.35, a personal best, to confirm the English title. “It’s such a surprise,” she said before collecting her gold medal. “I was aiming to go for something around 34-minutes, so I was planning to just go with e pacer and see what happens. I’m so happy.”
Barlow ran well through the closing laps to secure second in 34:15.20 on her first 25-lap outting on the track. Behind, Taschimowitz had moved ahead of Law as they entered the second half of the race; she came home for bronze in 34:17.99 on what was also her first track 10k.