The Balance Chartered Accountants Cooks Classic 2013 will have its star attraction in the Men's Mile as Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis confirmed his spot by the starter's gun yesterday.
Organiser Alec McNab had been reluctant to speak for the New Zealand track record holder by pencilling him in, but was smiling when he opened his email on Sunday. Willis' message said he was feeling confident and was on his way to Wanganui for the January 22 evening.
"Up till then, it was 'I'll think about it', but now he's in great form," said McNab.
Unfortunately the spread of prize money was not enough to bring over the wider training group of runners who work with the Olympian, but McNab was still confident of a strong field.
There are three touring groups making Cooks Gardens a stop on their athletic schedule - including Nelson distance runners, an Auckland troop and the members of the Young Olympians tour.
McNab said the field for the Junior Men's Mile is looking the strongest it can be - to the point some of those athletes are making noises about racing in the senior men's race instead.
The other headliner is of course Wanganui's own Olympic runner Lucy van Dalen, who is also coming home to attend a wedding.
Wanganui youngsters will also get their chance to race under the lights when the first of four Fastest Kid on the Block races takes place on Monday.
McNab and Athletics Wanganui organisers are going out to four different spots around town for an open qualifier of quick sprint races.
The top two kids from each of the four venues will then race in the finals at Cooks Gardens.