Dave Bedford hails ‘fascinating event’ after Highgate Harriers host 10,000m Olympic trials

Former world record-holder Dave Bedford says Highgate Harriers’ Night of the 10,000m PBs is a “fascinating event” which is “of great value” to the world of athletics.

The fourth annual meeting, which was originally designed by Highgate’s Ben Pochee to give club runners the best possible chance of achieving a personal best over 10,000m, was held at the Parliament Hill athletics track on Saturday.

This time it featured Great Britain’s Olympic trials so a host of elite international long-distance runners took part – and spectators were able to get close to the action, standing in lane three with burgers and beers while a band played in the background.

Bedford, who set a world record over 10,000m in 1973 and later became the race director of the London Marathon, is delighted to see the free, volunteer-run occasion gaining in popularity and capturing the public’s imagination.

“I think the attention the event gets is rare these days and is of great value. It is a fascinating event,” said the 66-year-old, who hands out the prizes each year.

“I would say that of course, being a former world record-holder at 10,000m – but I think the attention it is getting here at Parliament Hill track is way beyond any attention it would get elsewhere.

“I think the whole model of it here and the work Ben Pochee does, and the City of London, to make this happen is wonderful.

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“It is no coincidence that there are the Olympic trials [here]. The governing body of the sport, UK Athletics, recognise what is happening here and the club Ben is from should be applauded.”

There were surprises in both the men’s and women’s Olympic qualifiers on Saturday.

Great Britain’s Jess Andrews smashed her personal best by more than a minute and beat former world champion Linet Masai of Kenya to win the event in 31 minutes 58 seconds, achieving the qualifying mark (32:15) and securing her place in Rio.

Beth Potter (32:05) is also heading to Brazil after finishing as the second British woman, but Kate Avery (32:11.8) faces an anxious wait to see if she will be given a place in the team, having achieved the qualifying time but missed out on the top two British spots.

Four-time Olympian Jo Pavey also missed the cut, the 42-year-old finishing down in 10th place in 33:28 after struggling with a chest infection.

In the men’s race, the favourite Andy Vernon – the European 10,000m silver medallist and the only man to arrive in north London with the qualifying time already in the bag – was beaten by both Ross Millington and Dewi Griffiths and finished fourth.

Millington (28:28.2) and Griffiths (28:34.4) both recorded PBs but still missed out on the qualifying time of 28:00 and now face a race against time to achieve that standard before the end of July.

A number of Highgate’s own members also achieved their best times over the distance.

Andy Maud clocked 29:24.9, demolishing his previous standard of 30:57.68, and Chris Rainsford finished in 30:26.4, while Jon Laybourn crossed the line in 32:16.20.

Svenja Abel recorded a PB of 34:37.45 and Andrew Collins improved his time to clock 36:29.68.

Danny Russell and Murray Strain also took part, posting times of 31:26.19 and 31:37.04 respectively, while Hannah Viner (36:03.87) and Ashley Scott Wilson (38:01.13) performed well too.

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