Meeting records fall at Parliament Hill as Jess Warner-Judd and Andy Butchart emerge as top Brits
The Night of the 10,000m PBs once again saw a dizzying display of distance running with meeting records in the two blue riband races. Roared on by thousands of spectators at Parliament Hill in north London on Saturday (May 20), Paul Chelimo of the United States stormed to an emphatic men’s victory in 27:12.73 while Mizan Alem Adane of Ethiopia destroyed a world-class field by more than a minute with 29:59.03.
Behind, Jess Warner-Judd and Andy Butchart won British titles in style. Warner-Judd successfully defended the crown she won at the same event 12 months ago whereas it was Butchart’s first outing at the event. “It definitely lived up to the expectations and more,” he enthused. “This is the way track needs to go. The guys here have absolutely smashed it. It’s a whirlwind.”
He added: “It’s not ‘track’. It’s like a different discipline. It’s not dull. It’s not boring. Everybody loves it here.”
The meeting was part of the On Track Nights series this year and the running shoe brand made the most of their sponsorship deal by sectioning off zones for athletes, media, VIPs and spectators. Amid the post-race pyrotechnics and beer-fuelled fans, ever-presents such as Dave Bedford, the former world 10,000m record-holder, rubbed shoulders with YouTubers from around the UK and as far afield as America and Japan. A pilgrimage to this event has become, it seems, an essential act for any fan worth their salt.
Age is no barrier either. From Chris Thompson’s and Jemma Simpson’s two-year-old son, Theo, through to the 94-year-old Eric Shirley, steeplechase finalist at the 1956 Olympics, spectators from multiple generations descended on the Hampstead Heath venue to see what all the hype is about.
“When you arrive, there’s an atmosphere,” added Butchart. “I don’t want to be ‘the grumpy old guy’ but track has lost that a bit elsewhere. But it’s definitely here – the hype is real and it’s incredible. I don’t think there’s another event in the world like this.”
Chelimo a class apart
Coming into this event there was talk of Paul Chelimo not being in good form. A global medallist in the 5000m in 2016, 2017 and 2021, though, he showed his class with a dominant run as he beat Yeman Crippa’s meeting record by four seconds.
“People count me out sometimes and I like that,” he said. “I went to the Olympics and they counted me out. I went to the World Championships and they counted me out. I am a championship machine. I always show up!”
The American went No.8 on the US all-time rankings as he won by 19 seconds from runner-up Vincent Mutai of Kenya, who ran 27:31.31, with Tadesse Getahon of Israel third in 27:33.99. Egide Ntakarutimana of Burundi was fourth in 27:37.09 with Ren Tazawa, who had made the long trip from Japan to chase the World Champs qualifying standard of 27:10.00, disappointed to clock 27:40.40 in fifth.
“I was all alone and tried to go for it. The thing that makes me happy is that I got the course (meeting) record,” said Chelimo, who would surely have nailed the World Champs qualifier himself if it wasn’t for the chilly and slightly blustery conditions.
Chelimo, who passed halfway in 13:36.34 before pushing ahead, added: “The crowd is amazing. Amazing! That’s what kept me going. I saw the (Wave) light was flickering and going away from me but I was just grinding because the crowds were cheering so hard. There are obviously a lot of people here who love running.”
Will he be back? “For sure. I wouldn’t say no. I’ve always had success in London. Last year I had a really bad track season so to get a good race here and to win is a good predictor for the season ahead. So now I’ll get back to training and keep working hard.”
In 10th, Andy Butchart was 11 seconds outside his Scottish record with 27:47.43. Getting into the spirit of the evening, he grabbed a can of beer in the home straight and charged through the final metres swigging it to the delight of trackside fans. “If we did any other discipline in athletics (like this) it would take off,” he said.
Fellow Brit Zak Mahamed smashed his PB with 27:56.70 in 13th as the top 14 runners broke 28 minutes and he said: “It’s an amazing event and I’m really happy with the way I ran. The way the crowd carry you and the noise is unbelievable. I was struggling mid-race but the crowd kept me going.”
Alem Adane stuns crowd with sub-30min win
Mizan Alem Adane arrived at Heathrow on the eve of the race with no English language skills and merely a phone number for one of the organisers. Yet the Ethiopian found her way to the athlete hotel in Archway near Hampstead Heath and on Saturday night stunned the crowd with a runaway victory in 29:59.03, making her the 12th woman in history to break the 30-minute barrier.
From sunny conditions for the opening races earlier in the day, temperatures plummeted in the evening as the championship races approached. Yet Alem Adane turned up the heat on the track as she lapped most of her rivals.
On her final lap the Ethiopian almost caught and lapped runner-up Weini Kelati of the United States, who ran 31:04.16, with third-placed Nadia Battocletti of Italy finishing strongly to clock 31:06.42, just ahead of fourth-placed Jess Warner-Judd’s 31:09.29.
Most people’s pre-race favourite, meanwhile, Hawi Feysa of Ethiopia, was fifth in 31:09.85 as Miriam Dattke of Germany was sixth in 31:10.21 and Sam Harrison of Britain a fine seventh in 31:11.40 less than a month after her 2:25:59 marathon in London.
Two years ago Alem Adane won the world under-20 5000m title in Nairobi by eight seconds in 16:05.61. She is now aged 21 and not much is known about her, although she finished a relatively unnoticed and distant runner-up to fellow Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay over 3000m indoors in Birmingham at the World Indoor Tour final in February.
She certainly made a name for herself on Saturday, though. Paced by Melissa Courtney-Bryant through 3000m in 9:11.86, Alem Adane went through 5000m in 15:09.85 and forged ahead, building up a bigger lead with every lap.
Among other things the meeting record-holder Steph Twell vowed to donate money to the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund if anyone could beat her meeting record and Alem Adane’s impressive feat means Twell will now give £350 to the charity.
Kelati and Battocletti were delighted to run PBs behind the winner. The latter destroyed her previous best of 33:06.25 and told AW she plans to return to the event in future years, although her immediate goal for this summer is to move back down to 5000m.
Warner-Judd was also happy after struggling with illness during March. “My aim was to finish in the top two of the Brits,” she said. “That’s what I needed to do for the Worlds. To be British champion, I’m really proud and happy with that.”
She told AW she has partly come off social media as well in the run-up to this summer’s races in order to focus on her own training. “I deleted twitter and Facebook but kept Instagram as I liked posting pictures of my dogs!” she revealed. “I’ve just got back to basics and wanted to train smart and enjoy my running again.”
Looking forward, she added: “I know I’ll be better in a couple of months’ time. The base is there and I think I’ll be a lot sharper in August.”
Harrison nearly didn’t race here after coming down with a cold following the London Marathon but she felt better in the past week or so. “I was contemplating whether to do it but it’s a great race and event and I love doing it every year. So I thought I’d give it a blast,” she said.
On a night of superb performances, Amy-Eloise Markovc was third Brit home in a PB of 31:17.81 after having earlier boldly gone with the fast early pace with Abbie Donnelly fourth Brit in 32:10.16.
Young athletes’ races are a hit
Iris Downes and Finlay Hutchinson won the under-20 800m races as a series of events for young athletes held just before the championship 10,000m races went down a storm.
Hutchinson clocked 1:50.43 to win a close men’s race while Downes was more emphatic as she ran 2:05.95 and told AW: ““I’m very good at coming second and third in races so today I was really pleased to win a decent race for once. With the crowd it was phenomenal. I didn’t feel any pain whatsoever. I just heard the crowd.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this and it’s amazing that On Running is putting events like this on and giving under-17 and under-20 athletes the opportunity. I ran in the Diamond League last year but this event is something else.”
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