In the running to beat track greats

By Matt Ogilvie

Virtual challenge gives contestants chance to measure up against former Commonwealth Games champions.

Aspiring runners have the chance to pit their skills against Commonwealth Games gold medallists in a virtual duel of speed.

In anticipation of the Glasgow Games, a converted container on Auckland's Halsey Wharf has been turned into a state-of-the-art virtual running track where wannabe John Walkers or Allison Roes can try to beat international running legends.

Contestants test their speed on the track where each performance is captured using a series of motion sensors and digital cameras.

Sky Time Tunnel Challenge co-ordinator Rob Ipsen said the free event was a unique way for people to test themselves.

"It's a really interactive and fun way for people of all ages to get involved with the upcoming Commonwealth Games and to measure up against some of the great gold medallists of the past."

The challenge, however, is far from scientific: The track is only 12m long, so an explosive runner off the mark will fare better than a long-distance endurance athlete.

Any time under 3 seconds is considered worthy of our top running greats.

Each runner's time is calculated over a randomly selected competitive running distance, then compared against a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist's winning time. A photo of each runner is uploaded on to Facebook and their times are uploaded on a live leaderboard to track the fastest runners in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Sixteen-year-old aspiring Paralympian and North Island champion runner Kieran Lane visited the tunnel yesterday, at his mentor Sir Murray Halberg's suggestion, to try to beat his personal best and see how he had measured up against Commonwealth Games legends. In his fourth and best attempt Kieran crossed the line at 2.95 seconds, which converted to 20.8 minutes in the 2002 Manchester Men's 5000m final against the gold medallist time of 13.13 minutes set by Sammy Kipketer from Kenya.

The Sky Time Tunnel Challenge is on until Sunday at Auckland's Halsey Wharf.

- NZ Herald

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