For some winners at Highgate, victory has been their crowning moment. Yet at other times it acts as a springboard to even greater things
Since Eddie McGinley won the low-key first staging of the Night of the 10,000m PBs at Parliament Hill in north London in 2013, the event has gone from strength to strength and featured a ‘who’s who’ of champions.
Weather conditions have varied over the years but Steph Twell (31:08.13) and Yeman Crippa (27:16.18) own the fastest times in the annual event, which is organised by Highgate Harriers and part of the new On Track Nights series.
Many of the winners – and those hot on their heels – went on to make their mark in major championship 10,000m races, marathons and even triathlons. For others, victory at the Night of the 10,000m PBs proved their finest moment.
Here is our Highgate “hall of fame”…
Jo Pavey – 2014
The popular West Country athlete was already an established international and aged 40 when she clocked 32:11.04 ahead of European cross-country champion Sophie Duarte of France to win the women’s race at the 2014 Night of the 10,000m PBs. But this was Pavey’s first race since giving birth to her second child eight months earlier and her first track race since the 2012 Olympics.
Pavey later joked that her Exeter Harriers singlet was older than most of her rivals. And victory set her up for a superb summer, too, where the veteran runner won the European 10,000m title in Zurich and Commonwealth 5000m bronze in Glasgow.
Andy Vernon – 2014
Like Jo Pavey, victory for Andy Vernon at Highgate in 2014 set him up for some of the best major championship running of his life a few months later. The Aldershot runner clocked 28:26.59 at the Night of the 10,000m PBs to beat Chris Thompson but later that summer he won European 10,000m silver behind Mo Farah and 5000m bronze as well in Zurich.
Jonny Mellor – 2015
After finishing behind Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson in 2014, the Liverpool Harrier returned 12 months later to win in 28:46.80 ahead of Dewi Griffiths. Mellor would later run a marathon best of 2:10:03 in Seville in 2020 and, after a number of championship selection disappointments, he finished sixth in the Commonwealth Games marathon last year after earlier winning the English trial in style in Manchester in 2:10:46.
Jess Andrews – 2016
With Olympic selection at stake, Jess Andrews enjoyed the run of her life to clock 31:58.00 ahead of Linet Masai of Kenya and Beth Potter. The 23-year-old had been overshadowed in her own club – Aldershot, Farnham & District – during her teenage years by talents such as Steph Twell, Emelia Gorecka and Charlotte Purdue, but she rose to the occasion at Highgate in 2016 to claim a memorable victory.
Later that summer she finished seventh in the European 10,000m in Amsterdam and 16th in the Olympics in Rio in 31:35.92. But after marrying Tour de France cyclist Dan Martin she retired at the age of just 24 in August 2017 to enjoy life as a mum.
Beth Potter – 2017
“Tri-tastic” boomed the AW headline after Beth Potter proved that swim-bike-run training was good enough to defeat the full-time runners. The Scottish athlete clocked 32:04.63 and went on to finish 21st at the World Championships in London that summer before committing completely to triathlon where she went on to become European champion in 2019 and Commonwealth bronze medallist in 2022.
In 2021 Potter gave further proof that triathlon training can produce brilliant running results, too, when she set a world 5km record of 14:41 in Lancashire, although it was unfortunately never ratified.
As is often the case, there were a few gems buried further down the fields too in 2017. The winner of the women’s B race that same night, for example, was Georgina Schwiening, who clocked a modest 35:17.29 but the former world junior duathlon champion has improved her marathon best from 2:58 in 2017 to 2:26:18 this year.
Kojo Kyereme – 2015
The Shaftesbury Barnet veteran won the B race in 2017 at the age of 40 in 30:08.94 ahead of a field that included a young Jack Rowe. But that’s not all, as Kyereme is something of a Highgate legend as he’s the only runner to race in all of the events since the meeting started 10 years ago.
Kyereme, who works as a cardio physiologist, told AW: “The format from the beginning was very good. The moment I stepped off the track (in 2013) I was keen to come back the next year and every year it’s grown.”
Richard Ringer – 2018
Held on the same day as the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the FA Cup final where Chelsea beat Man Utd 1-0, the Night of the 10,000m PBs reached new heights in 2018 on a sun-drenched evening where fire jugglers, live bands and an RAF flypast added to the atmosphere as BBC covered the event live for the first time.
The event incorporated the European 10,000m Cup, too, with Richard Ringer of Germany out-kicking Morhad Amdouni of France in a pulsating men’s race as Alex Yee pipped Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson in a dramatic three-way sprint to finish top Brit. “This is the best track race I’ve ever done!” Ringer told AW. “The energy is crazy!”
He later went on to win the European marathon crown on home soil in Munich in 2020 and clocked 2:08:08 in Hamburg last month, whereas runner-up Amdouni won the 2018 European 10,000m title in Berlin and last year ran a French marathon record of 2:05:22 in Paris.
Lonah Salpeter – 2018
The Kenyan-born Israeli athlete was little known at the time but AW discovered at Highgate in 2018 that she had been a nanny to the Kenyan ambassador in Israel before becoming a full-time athlete. Winning in 31:33.03 despite erratic pacemaking, Salpeter would go on to greater things.
A few months after her Night of the 10,000m PBs win she won the European 10,000m title in Berlin. Moving to the marathon, she won the 2020 Tokyo Marathon in a swift 2:17:45, finished runner-up at the 2022 New York City Marathon and was third in last month’s Boston Marathon.
Steph Twell – 2019
Making a powerful move on the penultimate lap, Steph Twell surged clear of her rivals to win by seven seconds in 31:08.13. Behind, European champion Lonah Salpeter was runner-up with 10,000m rookie Eilish McColgan in third.
A few months later Twell ran 2:26:40 at the Frankfurt Marathon and earned selection for her third Olympics, where she finished 68th in Japan.
Yeman Crippa – 2019 and 2022
The Italian was third in his Highgate debut in 2018 but returned in 2019 to clock 27:49.79 in wet conditions and came back three years later to win again in an even faster time of 27:16.18 ahead of Sam Atkin and Emile Cairess.
Now he is one of the world’s finest distance runners as holder of Italian records at 5000m (13:02.26) and 10,000m (27:10.76), whereas in 2022 he won the European 10,000m title in Munich and clocked 2:08:57 on his marathon debut in Milan last month.
Roll of honour
Year – Men / Women
2013 – Eddie McGinley 29:53.37 / Louise Perrio 36:11.55
2014 – Andy Vernon 28:26.59 / Jo Pavey 32:11.04
2015 – Jonny Mellor 28:46.80 / Rhona Auckland 32:28.32
2016 – Ross Millington 28:28.20 / Jess Martin (née Andrews) 31:58.00
2017 – Andy Vernon 28:21.15 / Beth Potter 32:04.63
2018 – Richard Ringer 27:36.52 / Lonah Salpeter 31:33.03
2019 – Yeman Crippa 27:49.79 / Steph Twell 31:08.13
2020-21 – no races due to the pandemic
2022 – Yeman Crippa 27:16.18 / Jess Warner-Judd 31:22.24
Who will be crowned as the winners in 2023?
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