Athletes have been offered a cherry of a goal outside the confines of the Covid-19 lockdown with the status upgrade of the Cooks Classic in Whanganui in January.

Former Athletics New Zealand president and current Athletic Wanganui president Alec McNab said the decision to upgrade the status of the Cooks Classic had been made as part of a wider plan to reshape the calendar for this part of the world.

"The Cooks Classic has been upgraded to 'Area Permit Category D', which basically improves an athlete's chance of qualifying for future world events – it will attract a higher class of athlete to the meet," McNab said.

"It is also recognition of the reputation of the Cooks Classic. The 2021 Cooks Classic will be run on Saturday, January 30, a week after the Potts Classic in Hawke's Bay that also boasts the Area Permit Category D status."

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McNab said the 2021 Cooks Classic would also host the Sir Peter Snell meet that includes the return of the National Championship Mile, an event not been run since 1969.

"The late Dick Quax was the last winner of the Championship Mile, Rod Dixon holds the junior title and Heather Thomson the women's champion – that's how long ago it was last run. The Championship Mile was to have returned at the postponed Peter Snell meet last year," McNab said.

The upgraded meeting combined with the Sir Peter Snell meet is expected to attract a higher class of athlete, including Australians and other internationals striving for qualifying points for upcoming world assignments.

"This is very good news for Whanganui and recognition of the class of meetings and how well they are conducted here – it's good news out of the doom and gloom we are currently facing," McNab said.