On Saturday night, the epic Highgate Harriers Night of 10,000 PB’s came once more to Parliament Hill. This time, whilst hundreds of athletics lovers were crowding round the home straight to hear Paula Radcliffe and Lord Sebastian Coe sharing their stories, something different was happening across the track. In between the DJ booth and the bar, Ben Pochee, the driving force behind the event, had arranged a very special thank you. With candles and silverware, 26 officials sat down to dinner in Lane 1 of the back straight, served by the volunteers of Highgate Harriers and some of our friends at Team Personal Best.
Event organiser Ben Pochee commented, “This event is so much more than a set of races. It's where volunteers come together to create a special night and a special experience for both our lane 3 spectators & the athletes. The Officials' thank you dinner is just one small way we can say 'Thank You' to those people without whom it and all athletics taking place up and down the country simply would not happen."
The officials were surprised and delighted by the unusual thank you. Sheila White loved being part of it, “This is always such a great event and it was a lovely touch to offer everyone a chance to sit down together and have a break as it is a full-on schedule. None of us had ever eaten dinner in lanes one and two before! The food was great, and they had even made a splendid cake, so we were thoroughly spoilt. Many thanks to everyone who was involved.”
Nikki English, England Athletics Officials Development Officer commented “Whilst not every event has the flexibility to do something this big, we all know how much impact a great ‘thank you’ can have. With National Volunteers' Week approaching at the beginning of June there has never been a better time to let the volunteers in your club or community know they are special. It’s been great to be part of this “thank you” and hopefully there will be plenty more happening around the country.”
With the meal cleared away lanes one and two were once more open for more athletics action.
The main races of the night saw Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham & District, Nic Bideau) take the men's A-race win and British title in 28:21.15 ahead of Dewi Griffiths (Swansea, Kevin Evans, 28:31.88) with Ben Connor (Derby, Steve Vernon) taking British bronze in 28:46.45.
Then the women's race saw Beth Potter (Shaftesbury, Mick Woods, 32:04.63) run clear of Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District, Mick Woods, 32:16.23) and Katrina Wootton (Coventry, Harvey Rose). Once again England Athletics arranged for Vinco to provide video streaming of the event - including all seven races and the Endurance Seminar - which can be viewed here.
The England Athletics 10,000m championships will be held in Manchester on Saturday 19 August in association with the British Milers' Club. For details please click here