Who’s got the guts to go for broke? Will the championship races be tactical affairs? Will the story be teased out over the full 25 laps? Will we have a surprise to match last year’s epic?
This is especially true in the women’s race, where four Brits already have the world champs QT of 32:15 in the bag and will be racing for one of the coveted top-two spots.
Jess Martin surprised just about everybody when she won last year. She won’t be going in quite so under the radar this year, especially after adding a 32:49 road 10k PB to her name recently.
Jess will toe the line alongside five-time Olympian, Jo Pavey, who hit the ejector button at mile 16 of the London Marathon recently, and Rio-Olympian-turned-amateur-triathlete, Beth Potter. Kate Avery, who last raced over 5,000m on 23 June last year, is the fourth Brit with the qualifying time already to her name.BRITISH ATHLETICS 2017 WORLD CHAMPS SELECTION POLICY
Is there anybody that can repeat Jess’s trick and fly in to upset the favourites? Well, yes. Steph Twell.
Steph is stepping up for her first stab at 25 laps of the track – a move that, for some, may seem overdue.
With the speed she possesses over 1500m and strength built up on the country – and 10k road best of 32:28 from 2015 to boot – 10,000m could well prove to be a natural fit for Steph.
She hasn’t raced since her fifth-place finish over 3,000m at the European Indoor Championships in March, so it will be interesting to see what sort of shape she is in.
As one of the unknown quantities in need of a top-two finish on Saturday, and the world champs qualifying time before 9 July, will she play it coy and cautious? Or go for broke?
As for the men, a world champs qualifying time seems unlikely. That would require a sub-27:45 effort. The fastest anybody has run at the Parliament Hill event remains Andy Vernon’s 28:26.59 breakaway win in 2014.
If anybody can get the time this weekend, though, it’s probably Andy.
Andy tops the UK rankings thanks to his 27:58.69 clocking at Palo Alto in the US three weeks ago – and he’s the only man in the field to have ever gone inside the QT required.
If the time doesn’t come this Saturday, it’ll likely come at another meet in Europe some time next month, much like Ross Millington’s successful Rio Olympic bid last year.WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM LAST YEAR'S EVENT
Of the British big hitters, it’s difficult to look past Ross, Andy and Dewi Griffiths as the likely ones slugging it out at the front.
Dewi, like Andy, is fresh from a promising 25-lap outing at Palo Alto – Dewi hit a new PB and Welsh Commonwealth Games standard of 28:16.07. Ross ran the 5,000m there but didn’t finish.
If they want to make it a three-horse race then a fast pace would be the answer. There’s only one other British candidate currently within 20 seconds of Dewi’s personal best, the slowest of the three.READ ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE NIGHT OF THE PBS
Luke Caldwell is that man, though his 28:29.61 PB dates back to 2015. He’ll be worth keeping an eye on, though, given the rate he has been going in training at the Parliament Hill track of late.
Maybe there’s room for a breakthrough performance of Jess Martin proportions too. The most likely? English National XC champ, Ben Connor.
Ben finished fifth last year, was part of the gold medal-winning GB team at the Euro XC Champs back in December before going on to win that first senior national cross country title.
Now part of the New Balance-backed, Steve Vernon-coached crowd in Manchester, Ben should feature at the sharp end for large chunks of the race.
Check out the full start lists for all seven races via OpenTrack.
The first 10,000m race gets underway at 3:15pm on Saturday before building to a crescendo with the men’s and women’s championship events from 8:15pm.
Words by Bo James
Image from Andrew Peat