20th May 2017


Beth Potter and Andy Vernon each provided a sublime 25-lap masterclass to cruise to victory at this evening’s British Athletics 10,000m trials at the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs, with Potter securing her place to represent British Athletics at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London this summer in the process.

27-year-old Potter (coach: Mick Woods) has not competed in almost three months while she concentrated on her triathlon training, after a recent switch in sports with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in mind.

Finishing half a second shy of her lifetime best at Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath but well under the London qualifying time, the Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers athlete now has a home world championships to look forward to back on the track.

Third in the 2016 race, Potter broke clear of her training partner, Steph Twell (Woods), with five laps remaining and scorched to a swift 32:04.63 clocking.

The Rio Olympian revealed afterwards: “Last year, I felt like I was getting chased down but tonight I was getting stronger and stronger. I wasn’t surprised, I’m running well – my sessions were going great but I hadn’t raced (on the track) since Rio so I didn’t really know.

“I’m just going to carry on with what I’m doing (the triathlon training) – it’s working, I’m improving in the tri and in the running so there’s no point in changing anything at the moment. I run about 30-miles a week less now, I’m only in the mid-50’s but I’m getting my aerobic work from the biking and the pool as well, so my legs are fresh – win-win!

“I came here with no pressure and it was good to have a battle with Steph – it’s nice to come away with number one this time after finishing twice before. I was smiling and grinning, looking at my coach and thinking ‘this is good!’.”

Making her 10,000m debut and season-opener, Twell – of Aldershot, Farnham and District – narrowly missed the 32:15.00 London qualifying time with 32:16.23 but the 27-year-old achieved the Scottish Commonwealth Games standard and the Rio 5,000m Olympian will now target a British team spot over the shorter distance.

The European 5,000m bronze medallist said: “It was a different sort of race, it was just about touching my foot in the water today so qualifying would have been nice but it was just about seeing the over-distance work and see where I am ready for 5,000m and 1500m.

“It was just about touching up as my coach really believes in pushing endurance and pushing the pathway so it was a different sort of pain. I’m happy to have done my first one in London here, with the great support – it was awesome.”

Coventry’s Katrina Wootton (Harvey Rose) improved her personal best by forty seconds to claim the third spot in 32:27.47, whilst five-time Olympian Jo Pavey (Gavin Pavey) finished fourth in 32:42.93. The 43-year-old mother of two and 2014 European champion is now likely to switch to the 5,000m in an effort to make her sixth world championship team.

In the men’s race, 2014 European silver medallist, Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) secured a comfortable 28:21.15 victory ahead of Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans), who in turn dipped under the Welsh Commonwealth Games standard with 28:31.88.

The 31-year-old Aldershot, Farnham and District runner flew clear of the field at the 20-minute mark after calmly biding his time alongside Griffiths and Ben Connor (Spencer Duval).

Fresh from a fine 27:58 clocking in California earlier this month, Vernon stretched out to improve on his disappointing third-place position from last year and began his celebrations with 250m remaining, high-fiving the crowds all the way through to the finish-line.

The 2016 Rio Olympian – who will now chase the 27:45 London 2017 qualifying time in Hengleo – explained afterwards: “I hope to get the time on June 11th. Training’s been going well and I had the usual five-week build up in Mount Laguna in San Diego but my back seized up after 5,000m in Stanford, though I’ve had a lot of physio on it and it was good to salvage a sub-28 there.

“After watching the London Olympics, I really want to be in that stadium – it was deafening at the 2013 London Anniversary Games, almost as loud as here tonight.”

“I’m in the same shape as in 2014 – if I don’t get the time in Hengelo then I’ll probably do Houston in July to go for the 5,000m – I’d like to go for both events if I can.”

Tackling the Manchester 10km next weekend, Vernon offered high praise for the Highgate event organisers: “It’s amazing, they do a really good job here – we need more races like this. You’ve got everyone in your face all the time, you’re amongst the crowd.”

With defending champion and Rio Olympian, Ross Millington a non-starter, Griffiths replicated his runner-up placing from twelve months ago.

The 25-year-old Swansea Harrier – who has recently been training in Arizona under British marathon record-holder, Steve Jones and alongside London 2017 marathon representative, Callum Hawkins – followed up from his 28:16 personal best in America a fortnight ago.

The third British finisher – in fifth place overall – was Derby’s Connor, the 24-year-old English national cross country champion, who clocked a fine 28:46.45 to improve both his lifetime best by over half a minute and finishing position from his 2016 fifth place.

Meanwhile, Ellis Cross of Aldershot, 20, claimed the British University’s championship title with 29:00.49 – a progression of more than three and a half minutes – to add to his BUCS cross country bronze medal.

As reigning world champion, Sir Mo Farah has been pre-selected to defend his 10,000m title in the British capital later this summer.