Whanganui's Brad Mathas has dashed home and hopes his 800m dash tomorrow night will see him give the 21-year-old Cooks Garden track record a really good nudge.
Both the 800m and the One Mile Championship are the prestige events at the Sir Peter Snell International Track Meeting, each attracting a Trans-Tasman field to compete.
Mathas, the Cullinane College old boy who has won seven consecutive New Zealand senior 800m titles and two Under 18 800m titles, having skipped the Under 20's to run with the big boys, has brought his Melbourne team mate Stephen Knuckey with him for the quick trip home to compete.
"Left our place at 6am, got here at 7pm last night," the 25-year-old Mathas said today.
Even though he now lives in Australia, Mathas is hoping that being back on the track where he grew up in the sport will get him to the heights he wants to obtain.
"This is definitely home. Came home at Christmas and had some really good sessions down here."
Hoping to qualify for the 2019 World Athletic Championships, being held in Doha this August, he needs to run a 1m 45.80s time to qualify.
The record at Cooks Gardens is 1m 46.72, set by Canterbury's Shaun Farrell on January 17, 1998.
"I think it's definitely realistic, provided we get a good pacemaker and conditions are good," Mathas said.
"I'm in really good shape, won the Sydney track last week.
"Our coach and I targeted this meet about six months ago. I'm going fast."
Sports Heritage Trust co-ordinator Russell Sears said of the 12-man field for the 800m, the pacemaking runner has been chosen by Steve Willis, older brother of two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis, with the pair being the only Kiwi siblings to have both broken the four minute mile.
At last year's nationals, Mathas gold medal winning time was 1m 49.49s, while at the 2108 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April, he finished fifth with a personal best 1m 46.07s.
Wellington's Max Karamanolis, second to Mathas in prior races, could be another contender at Cooks Gardens tomorrow.
Mathas has taken the time to give Knuckey some advice about his first race on one of New Zealand's hallowed grounds for middle and long distance running.
"We talked about conditions and Brad told me conditions are pretty good, there's just that last 80m you get a gust of wind," the Australian said.
The Men's 800m will meet the starters gun at 8.20pm tomorrow, with the main event of the One Mile Championship starting at 9pm.
There will be two Melbourne runners in the Mile's 10-man field in Jordan Gusman and Craig Huffer.
Canterbury's Sam Petty has raced at Cooks Gardens before, while the local flag will be flown by Joseph Sinclair.
Sears said it will be a fun evening for spectators, with the sponsors area having beer available which references the names of some running legends who broke the four minute mile at Cooks Gardens – Jack Lovelock, Murray Halberg, John Walker and Snell.
"It's centred around Snell's two iconic events – 800m and the mile," said Sears.
The meeting starts at 7.15pm with the long jump.
7.15pm: Phillips Electrical Long Jump and H&A Print Hammer Throw Women.
7.30pm: Eyes on Victoria 800m Women.
7.40pm: Steelform Roofing Group 100m Women.
7.50pm: Home Trust Mortages 200m Men.
8pm: Loaders 400m Women.
8.10pm: Whanganui Chronicle Long Jump Women, Grand Hotel Shot Put Men/Women, and Unichem Whanganui Pharmacy 400m Men.
8.20pm: Elite Mechanical 800m Men.
8.30pm: Whanganui & Partners Under 20 & Schoolboy One Mile Championship.
8.40pm: Sport Whanganui Schools Swedish Relay Challenge.
8.50pm: Whanganui Collegiate School School's Match Swedish Relay.
9pm: Wanganui Toyota One Mile Championship Men.