Whanganui features in 2017 NZ athletics calendar

By Alec McNab - Athletics Insight

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CENTRE STAGE: Whanganui's Cooks Gardens has been earmarked for three major events on next season's New Zealand athletics calendar.
CENTRE STAGE: Whanganui's Cooks Gardens has been earmarked for three major events on next season's New Zealand athletics calendar.

The finalising of any calendar can be a long and protracted process as it can involve a number of factors and meetings to resolve clashes and conflict.

I often said that the first date to go on a calendar should be the date to meet to finalise the next year's calendar.

Last week the shape of the summer programme was announced following the resolution of a number of problems and issues. Major ones included the fixing of our own national championships placed so as not to clash directly with the Australian championships which annually attract a large group of leading athletes. The New Zealand Championships are to be held in Hamilton 17th - 19th March.

In a recent column I indicated that the New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field and Road Race Championship faced a major problem with the championships being forced to move from the booked venue of Mount Smart Stadium to accommodate the Coldplay concert. It is pleasing that this has been finally resolved and we now have certainty about the venue. I quote our president John Tylden's statement.

"The December 2-4, 2016 Track and Field Championships will be held at the Trusts Stadium Waitakere and the Road Race Championships will be held in the close vicinity.

Securing this location after losing Mt Smart has been a very difficult process but has finally been achieved with some excellent support from the CEO of Regional Facilities Auckland and his staff and the preparedness of the NZ Ukulele Trust to take up the offer of another venue for their festival. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all those involved in delivering this outcome and to thank the athletics fraternity for their patience over several weeks of uncertainty. The Local Organising Committee will be working hard to make up for lost time and I'm confident they will stage a memorable championships at a fine facility".

Whanganui club activities will start on Tuesday 11th October with the children's club commencing on the preceding day. Inter-club competition starts on Saturday 29th October in Hastings with Whanganui hosting the second round a week later on Saturday 5th November. This brings the popular league back to Cooks Gardens for the first time in three years which will be especially welcomed by our own athletes.

The Classic series has been finally confirmed and it is hoped that the success of this year's series is repeated. This included over a 10 percent increase in entry numbers at all meetings. The series commences in Hastings with the Potts Classic on Saturday 14th January, the Cooks Classic three days later on Tuesday 17th with the final of the lower North Island events the Capital Classic on Friday 20th January.

The Cooks Classic hosts the New Zealand Junior 3000 metres. In 2015 the junior 3000 metres attracted a field of close to 30 of the country's leading young middle distance athletes. The three January Classic organisers will again work to provide events that can be combined in an attractive package,

The other major Classic is the Pruitt Classic in Hamilton on Saturday 11th February. This will give an opportunity to compete at the New Zealand Championship venue a month prior to the national event. It will be a busy period for Whanganui officials as we will be hosting the athletic section of the Masters Games a week prior to the Porritt. Masters athletes will hopefully use the New Zealand Masters Games as preparation for the World

Masters to be held in Auckland 22nd -30th April.
School age athletes face a much shorter journey to compete at the North Island Championships which will be held in Inglewood a week later than usual on the 78th and 9th of April, this allows for leading juniors also to compete at the Australian Championships.

While the planning goes on behind the scenes athletes are still in winter action. 14-year-old Caitlyn Alabaster continued her promising and exciting progress with a 4th place in the under 18 North Island Cross Country. She was actually 4th across the line in the combined under 20, under 18 race and headed all the under 20 competitors including World Youth Games steeplechase representative Kelsey Foreman (Wellington) and NZSS Cross Country representative Emmerson Deverell. There was more good Whanganui news with Mignon Stevenson taking a bronze medal in the Masters Women 60 -64 division.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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