Nick Willis is edging closer to retirement but there are two major events that beckon.

The world championships in Beijing in August and next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are looming large for the Kiwi middle-distance runner.

Willis' season runs from November to September and the early stages of each calendar year involve a trip Downunder where he usually contests a series of meetings. After racing at indoor events in New York and Boston next month he will take part in the Auckland Track Challenge at Waitakere's Douglas Track and Field stadium on February 26.

Willis will line up against New Zealand twins Zane and Jake Robertson in the 5000m, alongside 2006 Commonwealth Champion Augustine Choge from Kenya and the leading Australians as they look to qualify for the world championships.


The last time he raced the Robertsons in a 5000m -- at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games -- it ended in tears. Willis accidentally tripped Jake, who then watched his brother win bronze.

"They [lapped runners] are the reason I fell in the 5k, including Nick Willis, which I will not forget for four years. And if I'm injured in four years, then the rest of my life maybe.

"That was my chance, in the 5000, so I will not forget that," Jake Robertson vented.

Willis was looking ahead, however, not back.

"Who knows how many more years I've got to come," Willis said.

"I'm 31 years old, almost about to turn 32, but I'm still improving. I don't feel like I want to put a time limit on it, but I'm realising that these [world championships and Olympics] are too good of an opportunity to not put everything in for."

Willis said the opportunity to race against the African-based Robertsons on home soil showed the depth of Kiwi athletics.

"I'm pretty nervous because there's a lot of pride on the line," Willis said.


"It's just like when you're playing table tennis with your mates in the garage next to your house, you want to make sure that you don't lose to anybody."

Willis, who won a silver medal in the 1500m at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has been training at altitude in Arizona recently and will spend another two weeks there before going to the meets in New York and Boston.

He will also contest the 1500m at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Wellington in March before racing in Sydney.

"It's been an important part of my early-year preparation, especially at summer time in New Zealand versus winter time in the Northern Hemisphere. It gives me a great foundation from which to build."

While Willis is here he will also play at the inaugural New Zealand Speedgolf Open to be held on the weekend of February 21-22 at the Rotorua Golf Club.