With the staging of the Olympics in London in 2012, athletics began to gain a wider audience in Great Britain. So, in recent years new sporting events have sprung up that were only temporarily interrupted by the pandemic. One of the most interesting and successful of these is the Night of the 10,000m PB’S, which turns sport into a show for both the participants and spectators. What makes this event particularly special is that it is held at night with creative lighting, so the athletes are competing in a kind of show that is exciting for them too. The contrast between light and darkness, and the pyrotechnics at the start and arrival of the runners on the track, have made this event extremely popular and a social media hit. It has even been referred to as “the best race ever” and “the 10-kilometre Glastonbury”.
To increase the level of entertainment and engagement, the spectators can stand right next to the track amongst food-trucks, circus shows and brief concerts between races. The runners also pass through a tunnel of lights that creates a surreal contrast with the darkness of the night. This atmosphere makes the event significantly different to those held in large stadiums, where a more formal Olympic style keeps athletes too far away from the stands. “It’s completely free,” announced the organiser, Ben Pochee, to the British press. “I want people to see how fantastic athletics and the sporting community are.”
The Night of the 10,000m PB’S, which is held in the splendid greenery of the Parliament Hill Athletics Track of Hampstead Heath, in North London, was established in 2013 with the goal of improving British racing standards. There are different 10,000 metre categories too, and the races pass between LED lighting systems positioned along the edge of the track. The athletes interviewed agree that the innovative use of light and the proximity of the spectators enhances their motivation and creates a completely different energy to when they are racing in more traditional, silent, daytime competitions. Many people have asked for this way of experiencing live sport to be extended to other disciplines.
In fact, as a result of its success over the years, the event has become a launch pad for national championships in Britain as well as the heats for the 2017 Athletics World Championships and the Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro. In 2018 the event incorporated the European 10,000m Cup in which athletes from over 28 different nations took part. The success of the Night of the 10.000m PB’S shows that if you transform live sports events into a show with carefully staged lighting, entertainment and live music they will appeal to a wider public, attract new fans and bring significant financial benefits to the sports world too.