We are on the eve of a new season.

When this is published there will be but five days until our first senior club night of the season on Tuesday (Oct 17 ) at 6.45pm (children's section starts on Monday, October 30).

In recent seasons the club has three standard programmes, A, B, C, each containing a sprint event, a middle distance event, a throw and a jump with sprint hurdles on the B programme and longer 300 and 400 metre hurdles in the C Programme. This will continue through the 2017-2018 season.

Next Tuesday is the A programme commencing with Long Jump (male grades) and Shot (female grades) at 6.45pm with the track programme getting underway with the 100 metres at 7.05pm. The other track events are 400 metres and 1500 metres for all grades with female Long Jump and male Shot midway through the programme at 7.15pm.

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Full details of the season's programme and timed weekly programmes are posted on the Athletics Wanganui website. The website also has details of our revised registration and subscription which simplifies the procedure and payment. www.athleticswanganui.co.nz
For school age athletes there are only 45 days until the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships in Hastings on the first weekend in December and there are only 11 days until the first Regional Meeting in Inglewood at the end of the month meaning that not only school age athletes need a positive and competitive start to the season.

With this in mind the opening two club nights combine with the Wanganui Collegiate School Open Championships. All events are run in tandem with club events and are open to all school age athletes with special guest medals awarded to winners not attending Wanganui Collegiate School.

It is interesting to note that on the occasions this policy has been adopted it has corresponded with success at the annual New Zealand Schools Championships at the start of December, notably last year when the school athletes won a record eleven track and field medals in Auckland. It is hoped that all athletes attending this year's championships receive the same beneficial start to the 2017 campaign.

If the positive feel of the Collegiate pre-season camp is anything to go by we are in for a vibrant and exciting season. The camp was attended by 21 athletes and over the three days they had a coaching session in Palmerston North, conducted by Palmerston North coaches George McConachy and Anne Thomson, two sessions on the Hastings track, a beach session at Ocean Beach, a planning and goal setting session and an informative evening with Hastings-based physiotherapist Tony Snell.

The athletes from all secondary school age groups responded magnificently to the challenges of the camp and in planning sessions realised that time is indeed short. There was a similar positive feel at Cooks Gardens on Tuesday with different training groups from different schools preparing for next week's official start to the season.

Five of the camp athletes travelled from Hastings to Rotorua and joined with seven other athletes to compete in the Podiun Rotorua Ekiden Relay. An Ekiden is a relay with six athletes in a team running over the classic marathon distance.

The legs around Lake Rotorua vary from the short 4.5km for the flat leg 5 to the nearly 9km hilly sections around the lake on legs 3 and 4. Although largely a corporate and social event it provides a good early season challenge and bonding session for the middle distance athletes in the team.

The mixed team of Jack Gay, Ethan Gillespie, George Lambert, Liam Back, Jessica Johnstone and Brittney Matthews finished third across the line to win the mixed section. Jack Gay got the team off to an excellent start completing the nearly 8km first leg over a minute faster than his predicted time. All team mates ran well with particularly impressive performances from George Lambert and Liam back on the demanding lakeside legs.

The girls team of Jane Lennox, Ashleigh Alabaster, Caitlyn Alabaster, Sarah Lambert, Sarah Mathews and Marseille Bowie not only won the school section but were overall women's winners. It was a great season opener and a fine team effort.

We can look forward to major events coming to Cooks Gardens over the summer months. There are demands on administrators, officials and athletes and with this in mind we are always looking for help as we approach the challenges ahead. I will try and keep readers updated with results and stories through this weekly article and through the Club website.

There are exciting times ahead.