rabbitPRO Matt Leach took to the track last week, competing at a meet in London that reminded him of a festival, complete with fireworks at the finish.
Last Saturday I raced at the Highgate Night of 10,000m PBs which included the British Championships. This meet only started 4 years ago under the initiative of Ben Pochee of Highgate Harriers. 10,000m running in the UK was at a low point with very few opportunities to run a fast 10000m. However this meet has grown year on year and is certainly one of the most anticipated events of the British track season.
I flew back to the UK 9 days before the race to try to ensure jet lag would not be a factor in my performance. I am very grateful to my employer and manger who allowed me to work from London for the week as this certainly made it easier. After a couple of days of waking up at 5am my body-clock managed to adjust to British time in plenty of time for the race.
Returning to places where I had done sessions before was a real boost. I'd forgotten quite how pristine the grass at Cambridge was but the track there was as windy as ever. Both workouts in the week before the race went well and it was particularly nice to do one with Cambridge University Hare & Hounds, the club which had a huge part to play in my running story.
I had been to this event once before in 2014 but nothing could have prepared me for turning up in the middle of the meet on Saturday evening. Supporters completely surrounded the track and there was a London bus on the infield and marquees on both straights. The atmosphere was more like a festival than a track meet with barbeques, beer and a live band.
The men's B race was going on while I was warming up and while I tried to remain calm and not get over excited before 25 laps I couldn't help but get excited with the noise coming from the track. Fireworks for the winner added to the party atmosphere.
With memories of finding myself at the back of the 5000m race I had done previously I got out fairly hard and found myself in 4th for the first few laps. The first couple of miles felt really good but unfortunately may have been a little ambitious and it was a long run for home when the lead group started pushing on. The atmosphere was incredible and I am very grateful for all the support - I just wished I could have been given some of the supporters' energy later in the race! The back stretch was more like a club than a track with loud music and a Strava inflatable. When I felt good, running through this was one of the best feelings I've experienced in running.
I shuffled to the top of Parliament Hill for my warm down and seeing the lit up track with the City of London in the background just cemented what an inspiring event this was. It's a event run by athletes for athletes and summed up everything that I love about running. It just shows what the grassroots running community can do!