Why Night of the 10,000m PB’s is the remedy British club running has been looking for.
A few passers by peered curiously over the railing at the slowly emerging collection of tents, scaffolding and giant screens being assembled on Parliament Hill Athletics Track. It was 9 am on an almost oppressively hot morning on London’s Hampstead Heath, the city skyline glittering in the sunshine. In just a few hours this place would come alive, a bubbling cauldron of music, beer and laughter lit up by the occasional burst of fire. You’d think it was a music concert but no, it was an athletics race. To be more specific, an event solely dedicated to 10,000 meter running which traditionally has been the ugly duckling of track and field.
The Night of the 10,000m PB’s - shorthand for personal best - is Britain’s coolest track event. Possibly even the world’s. Founded in 2013 its positioned itself at the very heart of British club running, the system and structure that underpins the majority of running races in the UK. Many of Britain’s athletics clubs have histories dating back to the early 20th century or before. But that rich history has come with its problems: as the sporting landscape has changed, becoming increasingly glitzy and fast-paced, the allure of athletics has faded.
“I certainly think there's sometimes a bit of a detachment at the top between actually what fans want, and what young people want,” says Olympian, and keen spectator of the action, Ross Murray. “But you've got all these baby boomers, people in their 40's, 50's, 60's putting on events what they think millennials will want. I don't think they're often getting it quite right.”