There is less than one month to go until the latest edition of the exhilarating Night of the 10,000m PB’s – an event featuring thrills and possibly a few spills as fans flock together at Parliament Hill in North London for some electric track action.
It’s an event unlike many others given the way the athletes and spectators interact. There’s a gantry to encourage fans to get behind the athletes from a different vantage point and with fireworks and a beer tent there’s plenty to keep the crowds entertained.
We caught up with event organiser Ben Pochee who explained how the idea for the Night of the 10,000m PB’s came about in 2012.
“It was a mixture of celebrating and watching people like Mo Farah do really well, picking up gold at the Olympics over the distance of 10,000m. But then seeing the kind of gap between what he was achieving at Olympic level and domestically, what was going on for athletes who were looking to be the next Mo Farah,” he explained.
Ben, himself a good standard club runner at the time, realised there was an opportunity to start something at low level and create a 10,000-metre event that filled a gap that the sport, and the athletes, were desperately in need of.
“We had the goal of what could we do as an event to improve the British standards of 10,000m racing. I knew that my performances were always, without doubt, improved when there was atmosphere. It’s so hard to race 10,000m with no atmosphere and 25 laps of the track.”
Ben’s twin aims were to create an event which was a beacon to the country’s 10,000m runners where they could get together and race and at the same time how could he, as an event organiser, create something that improved the atmosphere so that those taking part had the best opportunity in the best conditions to run quicker times.
The Night of the 10,000m PB’s was born.
Even with the success of the event over a decade later, there are still some challenges that Ben and his team face. Not least the fact that, like the majority of those working in grassroots sport, they are volunteers with other things competing for the hours in their day.
“Time is a constant challenge,” he said. “And as the event grows, so does that challenge.”
Ben also explains that commitment not just from an event organiser’s perspective, but also from the side of the athletes and the spectators has also been a very important element along the journey.
“Getting that commitment initially from the athletes to be part of the event success and I’d say the same about the spectators.
“We get 8,000 to 9,000 people down to Parliament Hill and again initially we put it on them. If you want to have a special event, you know, an annual celebration of our sport, it really is down to you guys to be there to make it. And they all have. So, to a person, I’d say thank you.”
The 2023 event
- It’s all happening on 20 May
- First race is 3pm
- Championship races start at 8.30pm
- 100% free to spectators.
- Find out more on the event website