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Pavey & Vernon storm to British 10,000m titles at Highgate

Andy Vernon

10 May 2014

Jo Pavey (coach: Gavin Pavey) and Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) showed their strength as they defeated the opposition, and the wind, to be crowned British 10,000m Champions at the Highgate Night of the 10,000m PBs.

The weather threatened to ruin what was billed as an endurance carnival, and whilst it certainly dampened things, it failed to spoil the party as both Vernon, and in particular Pavey, showed front running ability to take victory in the men’s and women’s championship races.

For Pavey, it was a return to the track after giving birth to her second child, and she looked at ease on the tartan, despite her last race being a seventh place finish at London 2012. But it was her manor of victory that was even more impressive, leading every step of the way once the pace maker dropped out.

Despite having 2013 and 2012 European Cross Country champions Sophie Duarte and Fionnuala Britton right behind her in the lead group until halfway, it was only the French athlete Duarte who could live with Pavey’s relentless pace in the second half of the race. However with seven laps to go Pavey had grown in confidence enough to turn the screw further and ensure she’d run out a comfortable winner.

Despite the conditions, Pavey clocked 32.11.0, well inside the European Championships qualifying time of 33.00, meaning she has booked her spot on the plane to Zurich this August. Duarte took second on the night, with Beth Potter (Mick Woods) running the best race of her career to move through for third, and British Championship silver. She also dipped under the Zurich qualifying mark with a 32.45.7 clocking, which is inside the 32.50 time need to be considered for selection by Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games in her home country. Bronze went to another Scot, Rhona Auckland (Joyce Hogg), who is converting the best cross country season of her career into great track form.

Of her comeback race, Pavey commented:

“I can’t believe it really. It’s exciting to be back out their again, back on the track, and whilst it was a little windy tonight the atmosphere was awesome – the crowd really kept me going. There was some good girls out there so I was quite nervous going into it. I was very much in the dark having not raced since 2012, so I just thought I’d have to go for it!”

In the men’s race, much like Pavey, Vernon took up the running as soon as the pace maker stepped off just before 5000m. Along with Chris Thompson (Alan Storey), Vernon quickly started to move away from the rest of the field, but despite missing the break, Jonny Mellor (Steve Vernon) was insistent in getting back on terms, and within a couple of laps he’d regained contact with the Aldershot, Farnham & District duo.

But with the first two finishers (subject to them having the 28.40 qualifying time) guaranteed a spot on the European Championships team, Vernon decided three was a crowd, surging hard for 200m to break clear of his rivals. The European Cross Country Championship bronze medallist never looked back, powering around the last 4,000m to cross the line in 28.26.6.

In fact Vernon’s second 5,000m was an impressive 14.05, indicating there was arguably more in the tank, which isn't surprising given his 13.11 clocking over 5,000m in American last Sunday to move to sixth on the British all-time list.

“I was looking forward to this week with the two races, but at the same time dreading it! You’ve just got to go out there and perform, and I did that last week and I’ve done it again this week, so hopefully that’s qualifying out of the way for both the European and Commonwealth championships.

“I’ve got a couple of 3ks coming up next and then it’s the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix Diamond League meet, where I’d like to run sub 13.10 [for 5000m].”

That left Mellor and Thompson to battle it out over the remaining 8 laps, with Liverpool Harrier Mellor at the front trying to keep the pace hard. However as the duo slipped off 28.40 schedule, Thompson was happy to just sit in and leave it to a last lap burn up. This turned out to be a wise move, as despite making his marathon debut just four weeks ago, Thompson had the speed to outkick Mellor for silver, the pair clocking 28.49.8 and 28.52.9 respectively.

Full results will be available at www.thepowerof10.info shortly.

For interviews with the race winners, please head to British Athletics TV. Race highlights will also be available on our channel shortly.