Athletics News

Chris Thompson: “Highgate hits you right in your core”

Chris Thompson: "Highgate hits you right in your core"

Veteran athlete on the immense feeling on running Night of the 10,000m PBs and why the event is so special

Chris Thompson is no stranger to Night of the 10,000m PBs.

The 42-year-old athlete has taken part in the event on a myriad of occasions and has raced the full 10,000m race three times. The first was back in 2014 – a year after the inaugural edition – when he battled but lost out to Andy Vernon for the British 10,000m crown under the lights at Parliament Hill.

In 2018 and 2019 “Thommo” also finished seventh and 14th respectively. He is back on the track again in 2023 but this time will be the pacemaker for the 29:50 group.

There are not many athletes better placed than Thompson to describe how Night of the 10,000m PBs has evolved from a much lower-key meet a decade ago to the extravaganza it is now, capturing the imagination of both spectators and those competing.

AW caught up with the On Running athlete at the brand’s flagship store in Regent Street the week before the event (May 20).

Thompson, who has won both Birmingham (May 7) and Bristol (May 14) Great Run 10kms since he finished 10th at the London Marathon (April 23) in 2:11:50, is excited to be back in Highgate and there is one recurring theme during our interview. The noise.

Not the sirens of the police cars that shot by as we started the recording, but the ferocity of the fans who line the Parliament Hill track less than a metre from the athletes. From cheers and cowbells to screams and songs, there’s a plethora of sound that hits the athletes.

“It [the noise] gets you right in the stomach,” Thompson says. “I love it but you also have to find a way to to stay calm. It’s an incredible feeling and racing in that environment is unlike anything else.

“London 2012 will always be the pinnacle when I stepped out on that track with the noise. But it was following the lead pack and I wasn’t having a great day. The thing with Highgate is that it gets you to your very core because people are screaming and they are doing it right next to you.

“When I’ve raced in the past friends know they’ll be able to give me abuse when I’m running and know that I’ll hear it! The event is what you make it and there’s so much to offer. For athletes running across all events, they’re…

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