It is New Zealand Masters Games time. How quickly two years has passed since the last and how eagerly has the 30th edition starting Friday been anticipated.
The games are important for the city in so many ways and it is encouraging that there appears to be an increase in numbers this year. In athletics we too are pleased with a larger entry and we look forward to welcoming back old friends and welcoming some new faces.
The first session of track and field athletics is on Saturday morning commencing at 9am when discus and women's shot events will be held in the field and the mile and 400-metres on the track.
Session Two starts at 2pm on Saturday with long jump and men's shot in the field and the 100m and 3000m walk on the track. Sunday has one session starting at 9am in the field with high jump, track events start at 9.30am with 800ms followed by 200m. The session ends with a 60m series of sprints at 12.30pm. The other field event is triple jump.
The final session is at 6pm on Monday when hammer and 3000m will be contested. This normal Tuesday club night has been brought back to Monday starting at 7pm and will be run alongside masters' events.
The games are also a great chance for our younger athletes to give something back to the club by the help they give over the weekend in the four sessions of track and field. This younger help was evident at the Cooks Classic with sterling assistance from Greg Fromont's High School training group and a group of day students from Whanganui Collegiate.
It is good for younger athletes to gain an appreciation of the sheer hard work in organising track and field and in the case of the Cooks Classic they were trackside with some leading New Zealand athletes and at masters they can appreciate that physical activity does not end on leaving school. They, like me, will be amazed with the number of 80-year-olds still competing.
The Lower North Island series of Classic meetings ended in Hastings at the weekend at the Potts Track and Field Classic.
Zoe Hobbs took another slice off her 100m Resident Record set in Wellington eight days earlier taking advantage of a near perfect 1-8 metre/second following wind to finish in 11.37 seconds.
Eliza McCartney impressed in the pole vault setting not only a Resident record but also an All Comers record to soar over 4.85 metres for a world class performance. McCartney then set the bar at 5m and although unsuccessful she is clearly able to become the third woman to clear the height. In the shot world champion Tom Walsh got the 7.26kg implement to a world class 21.38 metres while Jacko Gill back in action achieved an encouraging 20.29 metres.
The small group of Whanganui athletes had a successful meeting.
Tayla Brunger ran a season's best 400m to finish with a confidence-boosting 57.10 seconds while Emma Osborne took on pacemaking duty for Angela Petty in the feature 800m race.
Brunger and Osborne ran together the following day in a 4 x400 metre relay as members of a New Zealand Secondary School combination running against a tertiary quartet attempting to qualify as a team for the World University Games in Italy later this year.
The older team was close to qualifying and look likely to achieve the mark later in the season while the younger team has shown early indication that they have realistic hopes of achieving a qualification for the World Juniors next year.
Sophie Williams produced another excellent 100m running a wind assisted 12.12 seconds only one hundredth of a second outside of her fastest. The 14-year-old Williams ran in the women's division and only missed the final by two hundredths of a second. Later in the evening Williams joined
Osborne, Brunger and Genna Maples in the 4 x 100 coming close to their Collegiate record set in Wellington eight days earlier.
There was one Whanganui Collegiate record broken and that was from Andres Hernandez in the 5000m. Hernandez finished 6th in a senior men's field in 14:58.22 taking four seconds off Liam Back's record. Hernandez had set a personal best in 1500m in Wellington and has made a positive start to his time at Whanganui Collegiate.
It was pleasing to see a big attendance at club night on Tuesday on the eve of a new school year. Nathaniel Kirk, Travis Bayler and Karl Loeb impressed over 1000m while Tayla Brunger looked good in the 300m with good performances. They and other athletes have a busy competitive season ahead but over the weekend this will be on hold as they help at masters.