There was no record for Kiwi Olympian Nick Willis, but it was an excellent training run in Whanganui on Tuesday night ahead of his upcoming international commitments.

Willis had hoped to break the 3m 38s track record for the 1500-metre main event on the Cooks Classic programme at the legendary Cook Gardens athletics venue. The record was set by Aucklander Peter O'Donoghue in 1984.

However, a hot early pace from Theunis Pieters from Hamilton and a strong gusting wind put paid to a stadium record, although not by much.

Willis stopped the clock at 3.41.70 and immediately labelled it a good hard training run ahead of the North American Indoor Championships in Boston in 10 days time.


"Just what I wanted, a really good hitout," Willis said as he crouched in recovery post race.

"The purpose of my running here at Cooks Gardens and in Wellington (Capital Classic Saturday) was to get ready for the North American indoors on January 26. The pace was probably a bit too strong early and then a couple of really strong gusts slowed momentum.

"These young guys really kept me honest tonight and I'm rapt with the effort."

Willis conceded he was not getting any younger, but felt in great order for the challenges ahead.

Pieters, as directed set the pace with Willis hot on his heels and with around 800m to go took control dictating his own pace for the remainder of the race.

Cooks Classic 1,500m Men's final

Posted by Whanganui Chronicle on Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The younger brigade gave him no peace in front, but in the end Willis was simply too classy drawing away at the line to beat fellow Kiwi international Julian Oakley (3.42.26) and his Tauranga team mate Sam Tanner (3.43.01) by several lengths.

The only record to fall on the night was the Cooks Gardens high jump benchmark of 2.17m by Christchurch athlete Hamish Kerr.

Kerr lept 2.22m beating the old record set by Australian Chris Dodd in January 2015 and equalled by Kerr a month later that same year.


After breaking the record by 5cm, Kerr then had three close, but unsuccessful attempts at 2.26m.