Identical twins from Germany running in bright yellow socks made quite a sight at the NZ Windows Tauranga Twilight athletics meeting held at Tauranga Domain yesterday.
Germany's top marathon runners, Anna and Lisa Hahner, 26, were the star attractions in the women's 3000m race. They competed as part of their month-long summer camp in New Zealand, which included training in Rotorua this week.
Rowan Marie Torckler from Cambridge caused a shock among the good-sized crowd in attendance by shooting past the twins with 300m to go to hit the tape first. Talented Tauranga Rambler Deborah Paine finished strongly to take fourth place.
But the result and the wet weather was of no concern to the Hahners, who said they would love to come back next year and compete at the annual New Year's Day event.
"The best thing you can do is race when the weather is like that because it doesn't matter if it is raining or not when you're running," Lisa said.
"It was a great crowd and it was really fun. We wanted to improve on our speed in our winter but we haven't run a 3000 for four years so it was unusual for us."
Anna says running in New Zealand has been wonderful because of the excellent training facilities in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
"Running in the sun has given us so much energy and you can't compare it with running in winter time in Germany. Our goal for both us is to go to the Olympics in Rio. We have to run the German standard in spring this year but we think we can do it."
Lisa is going back to Germany next week, while Anna is to compete in Wellington at the national championships in the 3000m distance before they both compete together again in a half marathon in Barcelona in February.
Event organiser Malcolm Taylor says the twilight meeting is not so much about breaking records but is a top-class event for athletes all over North Island to fill a void in the middle of the summer programme.
"It was a bonus getting the twins to compete but local athletes like [New Zealand sprinter] Amy Robinson is a really good supporter of our events and she is out there in her club uniform.
"It is very good and with the likes of Mariah Ririnui returning it is boding well for a very good sprint team from here."
-Results online at www.taurangaramblers.co.nz