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Track Running Unlike Any Other

“One of the great things about the event is that there’s something going all around the track. If pirate drummers don’t take your fancy, then there’s always the DJ tent or the gin stand or the fire jugglers or the live band.” - Chloe Beckett

The Night of the 10,000m PB’s is one of the hottest events in running right now. When most people think of track and field they think of empty stadiums filled with a few diehard fans, their cheers barely reaching the athletes battling it out on the track. The Night of the 10,000m PBs said enough is enough.

This revolutionary, grassroots racing spectacle first appeared back in 2013. Organised by Ben Pochee and the Highgate Harriers running club, with the support of the wider running community, the Night of the 10,000m PBs was a response to the declining interest in 10,000m running. Why not make things a bit more interesting?

5 years later the event has become a must-see; with its iconic #Lane3BeerNCheer ethos, reputation for fast times and party atmosphere the Night of the 10,000m PBs has managed to do something almost unknown - it’s made 10,000m running cool!

Over 8,000 fans came out to enjoy the rare British sun and an evening of world class racing.

"Simply a carnival atmosphere. If the quality of the racing wasn't high enough, there was just so much other stuff going on relentlessly from lunchtime to nighttime.

- Su-Min Lee

The headline events this year included the European 10,000m Cup and the British 10,000m Championships, which meant selection for the European Championships in Berlin this summer was on the line.

"I decided to consider this race as a test for the European Championships this summer, I really focused on targeting a good position and took my concentration off the precise time [...] My feeling at the starting line was quite relaxed as I had noticed the wonderful feeling in my legs just a minute ago doing my strides."

- Richard Ringer, German elite athlete

The Strava Mile Pursuit

Also making its debut this year was the Strava Mile Pursuit. Lucky (or unlucky) participants, including journalists and competition winners, were invited to race a mile around the track in front of thousands of cheering fans. The twist? Hannah England, a world silver medallist in the 1500m, was chasing them down. Participants got a 45 second headstart but only a few managed to stay away to cross the finish line before Hannah!

"The atmosphere was brilliant and I feel privileged to have been included in the mile event. I'm pleased I didn't let myself down by running a reasonable time and the cherry on the top was not being beaten by Hannah."

- Paul Sinton-Hewitt (Founder of parkrun)

"Running round Parliament Hill with everyone cheering was a highlight of my year - up there with London Marathon! I think it's a really exciting format for the runners and more importantly the spectators so definitely something worth being part of!"

- James Holt (Midnight Runners)

"I had an absolute blast, despite being lightning slow, it was a great atmosphere!"

- Sean Ingle (Senior Sports Writer, The Guardian)

"Hanging out with friends, watching the elite racing and generally have an absolute blast. I LOVE the Night of the 10,000m PBs. Do we really have to wait 365 days to do it again?

- Kate Carter (Lifestyle Editor, The Guardian)

Leaving it All on the Track

While the Strava Mile Pursuit competitors were leaving it all on the line over four laps of the track, the elite athletes were duelling it out over 25 in search of PBs, qualification standards and bragging rights. For Strava Track Club athlete Natalie Tanner, it was her first time competing on the big stage.

"On the starting line, I was standing next to my German teammate Sabrina Mockenhaupt, who is a three-time Olympian and veteran at this race. Normally I would have been intimidated to line up with someone with her resume, but I was lucky I had the opportunity to get to know her. On the warm-up, she reminded me that I have to race a 10k regardless of how exciting the environment was. This helped me stay focused on the starting line- despite the crowds screaming louder than I’ve ever experienced!"

- Natalie Tanner, Strava Track Club athlete

For many of the elite athletes this event will live long in the mind; often the 10,000m can seem like the ugly duckling of track running - unloved and unwanted - but at the Night of the 10k PBs these athletes get to be the stars of the show.

"This surrounding was of course incredibly encouraging and I felt as if I was flying the laps without fatigue or second thoughts of the high pace."

- Richard Ringer

"The atmosphere was incredible. With the loud crowds leaning over the barricades on the track, it honestly felt like we were stars of a show! If you didn't know everyone was just watching us run in 25 circles, you probably would have thought it was a fun concert!"

- Natalie Tanner

The night proved to be a success for both Natalie and Richard. Natalie's German team finished third.

"My other favorite part was at the awards ceremony - where we won bronze (!) - after they announced the teams they set off fireworks and confetti into the air. I screamed a little because I was so caught by surprise! But it really made us feel like we were being celebrated for our hard work and achievement, which is rare in the sport of running!"

- Natalie Tanner

While Richard secured the win, edging ahead of French rival Morhad Amdouni at the line.

"With four and a half laps to go, I went to the front and increased the pace significantly, with only Morhad Amdouni being able to follow suit. On the last lap, Amdouni passed me and tried to take it off from there, but I responded, kept close behind him and was able to sprint down the final straight [...] On the last one hundred meters, I was just entirely focused on winning the race and when I raised my arms in the end I felt the emotion of the win."

- Richard Ringer

Events like Night of the 10,000m PBs prove that there is a different way to do athletics. With an inspiring and supportive set of fans, a bit of innovative thinking and some real, meaningful competition Ben Pochee and his team have been able to turn the Night of the 10,000m PBs into what it is today; simply one of the athlete's favourite racing events in the calender!

Check out the full results here