Night of the 10,000 PB’s preview, Saturday 20 May 2023
Mar 29, 2023 • Will Cockerell
OpenTrack are delighted to once again be taking entries and producing results for the exceptional and pioneering night of sport that is the Night of the 10,000 PBs, founded by Ben Pochee and hosted by Highgate Harriers at Parliament Hill.
The full prize pot for this year’s contest now stands at £30,000.
It is a remarkable event which has totally transformed the status of 10,000 metre track running in the UK, but for a period of some 50 years from the early 1960s, 10K participation on the track in the UK slunk to dangerously low levels. Obviously the problem was all in the mind; circling a track 25 times scared people.
In 2013 an official at British Athletics had this tough opinion: “Getting women to do 10K on the track is largely impossible.”
Of course it was a disgraceful thing to say, by someone with limited vision about how to promote our sport. It was the same grim summer when Aly Dixon was forced to line up with the men to save her from running the National Championships solo. The Guardian felt compelled to run the sad tale:
However, over the past decade, the ‘Glastonbury of the 10K’ has attracted eager athletes from all over the UK — and the globe — for a marvellous festival of top level racing and a celebration of life. And that sole female entry for 2013? Make it 80 for 2022! It’s quirky, riotous, bonkers, but brilliant.
Of utmost importance though, is that the entry and seeding system for such a complex night of racing is top notch, and that the results are delivered impeccably, with alacrity, and with as much data as people crave in this day and age.
This is where OpenTrack steps in. All the fun and jamboree, racing tunnels, fireworks, bridges, and beer are great, but at the heart of the day is a deadly serious sports event which requires some intricate organisation.
Some of the special effects that OpenTrack provides to the event are pretty dazzling, and a dream for the casual fan and geek alike.
Every athlete is provided with their splits for a cool 85 of the following benchmarks: 200, 400, 1K, thanks to our colleagues at Seiko.
It is a veritable cacophony of colour, stats, info, and a gentle bubbling towards either redemption or collapse. Here’s an example of how OpenTrack presents cumulative splits for the runners logged every 200, in 2022:
Let’s take six athletes’ journeys and enjoy their travails, with 10 different checkpoints:
These numbers take us on the “long and winding road” of what high-class distance running is all about. The consistency, or lack thereof; the fade, the exhaustion, the fightback or sometimes the collapse – and indeed there were many DNFs on the night. A startling 80 entrants didn’t trouble the scorers – with 23 failing to reach the start line, and 57 more having to leave the dance floor thereafter. If not for all the joy and excitement in the air, one might say this was positively medieval.
But what can we take from those above stories, and why does such data and intel form the bedrock of what we do at OpenTrack? The splits celebrate the construction of a race.
Here are a few things to point out and savour:
Look at the differential between the first 400 and the 21st. Can anyone improve? Well, not Walker who goes from an 81 to a salty 99. Grgec does well with 82 to 84, whilst Judd is amazing with her 76 to 73 transfer. Lupton and Casey hang in there just about, whilst Crippa goes from 66.9 to 66.9. Marvellous.
The difference between the 20th and 40th 200s is fun too, as athletes transition from just starting to get tired, to really, really tired. But look at Walker! A 49.5, twice. The other transfers are 40-43, 38.5-38.3, 39-42, 35.4-35.8 and Crippa imperious as ever with his 33.9 to 33.6.
The range of the four Ks we denote is fascinating too. Let’s look at first K versus the seventh:
3:22 - 3:52 3:22 - 3:25 3:10 - 3:08 3:07 - 3:21 2:52 - 2:58 2:44 - 2:42
A natural fade there for four athletes, but incredibly, two found a better 7th K than their first — surprise surprise, it’s the two finest performances of the night from Judd and Crippa.
It’s the perfect lesson in the construction of top distance-running: start steady and build. Less than 1% of runners are truly able to have the discipline, patience, self-belief, and both mental and physical strength to execute that goal, but it’s the way to go.
We all look forward to the festivities of May 20th, for another night to pay homage to a classic endurance event that was once lost, but is now found.