Spring has sprung and with all the new growth there is that uncertainty of what the weather will bring the next day or even the next hour.
Athletes also face some uncertainty of whether to start preparation for the summer or round off the winter in road championships.

Today the intermediate schools have their annual cross country championships on the Whanganui Collegiate School golf course.

The recent Round the Lake Relay where Whanganui Intermediate won the girls and St Georges the boys with Huntley in the mix in both and Westmere well-placed in both indicates that there will be some intense team and individual competition on the spectator-friendly course.

At the weekend while many leading local cross country runners were on the start of their summer build up, teammate Andres Hernandez rounded off his winter in the best possible way by retaining his New Zealand under 18 road title at Pukekohe.

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Hernandez, who featured in last week's article following his fastest lap award at Round the Lake, has clearly shaken off his mid-season health issues.

He produced an outstanding frontrunning effort to win the title by a good margin.

Hernandez's outstanding time of 18 minutes 36 seconds broke the New Zealand record set by Sam Tanner in 2017 (18:40). This summer Tanner broke 4 minutes for the mile at Cooks Gardens to become New Zealand's youngest sub four-minute miler.

It was a significant milestone for Hernandez and a real confidence boost as he begins his preparation for summer where his goal is to qualify for the World Junior Championships (under 20) over 5000m. The championships are to be held in Kenya in next year's northern summer.

The annual Whanganui Inter House indoor athletics provides a timely reminder for athletes that summer is just around the corner. In three weeks, athletes will be in camp and in 79 days is the start of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships in Wellington.

There are only three major build up meetings with Regional League at Inglewood (November 2), Palmerston North (November 9) and Masterton (November 23). Club Nights start on Tuesday, October 15.

The Collegiate Indoor House Match established more than 30 years ago provides an exciting 90 minutes of action. The 2019 edition was held in front of a vociferous crowd in the Jubilee Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The format has teams of six competing in six grades (junior, intermediate and senior for both boys and girls). All six in a team must compete in at least one of the 4 events for each grade.

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The events are a pursuit race (borrowed from cycling), over 3 laps of the tight 100m track, a 40m sprint, a 600m race and the 4x100m race. The short sprint has crash mats against the wall as there are only a few metres from finish to wall and is always exciting and closely fought providing a challenge for judges without the benefit of photo finish assistance.

The pursuit provides a great team race while the 4x100m on the tight track provides its share of excitement.

Leading athletes such as Sophie Williams, Ana Brabyn, Liam Back, Genna Maples and Tayla Brunger demonstrated their national class while others showed the promise of exciting things to come.

Grey House won from outdoor team winners Harvey by a narrow margin.

The concept and action provided demonstrates how exciting track and field can be and I would like to look at holding an interschool version. Good things need to be shared and this event is one of them. The track may be tight, but the Jubilee provides a wonderful venue.

Spring will soon give way to summer and I and several athletes can't wait.