Half of January has gone and with it the reminder that there are busy days ahead for us all including athletes.
The weekly senior Club Nights start next Tuesday (January 19) at 6.45pm with the C programme which provides preparation for major events. The programme contains the popular 2000m road race, 60m, 150m, 300m, 600m and throwing and jumping events.
The non-traditional distance events are especially valuable for athletes travelling to Hastings four days later to the Potts Classic, the first of the North Island Classics with our own Cooks Classic only a week later on Saturday, January 30.
Our younger athletes have already been in action in 2021 with a small highly successful team of five at the children's Colgate Games at Inglewood last weekend.
Cruz Malo in Grade 10 impressed by winning the 100m, 200m sprint double. His clubmate Harlynn Faalili was busy in the 8-year-old grade winning a first-place pennant in the 100m, a second place pennant in the 200m and third place pennants in the 60m and long jump while Brian Wilson took four para golds in 200m, 100m, discus and long jump.
The Rennie twins had another close battle over 80m hurdles in the 14-year grade with Carrie 4th and Teresa 5th. We will be able to see our young sprint medal winners in action at the Cooks Classic as they run in the popular "Fastest Kid on the Block" mid-programme.
The Pak'n Save Cooks Classic on Saturday, January 30, which has enhanced status as an Oceania Permit Meeting, also has the benefit of a supportive and generous sponsor.
The Cooks Classic will feature the New Zealand One Mile Championships plus other top-class events over a 2-hour action pack programme.
The cream of New Zealand's top athletes will be competing in the following events: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, shot put, hammer, discus, triple jump.
The meeting will also feature the NZ One Mile Championship for Men, last competed for in 1969 and the second ever NZ One Mile Championship for Women. World Athletics and the Oceania Athletics Association has approved the 2021 Cooks Classic as an Oceania Permit Meeting.
With a fortnight before entries close, we already have more athletes entered than competed last year. We know of dozens of others who have stated their intention to compete but have not yet completed entry procedures and as in the past, many procrastinate with the inevitable rush on closing day.
Even more than the number of entries we are encouraged by the quality and depth of the field. Our borders may be closed denying the participation of overseas athletes but by the same token Australian competition has been ruled out for our athletes and they have rushed to enter our own Classic meetings.
The New Zealand Mile Championship already has a quality field including three who are already on the Cooks Gardens Roll of Honour receiving the prestigious sub 4 cap.
One who has not yet achieved that on Cooks Gardens is Whanganui Collegiate educated George (Geordie) Beamish. Beamish has retained his Whanganui membership and was second in the 2020 New Zealand mile rankings (3:56.96) and would dearly love to win a cap and be the first Whanganui athlete on the roll of honour on the eve of his return to the United States.
The sprint fields also have especial depth and quality. Eddie Osei-Nketia hoping to break his father's track records but to do that he needs to head a quality field including multi- New Zealand title winner Joseph Miller and top ranked Hamish Gill. Whanganui sprinter Tayla Brunger has entered sprints and features in a 400m of high quality. The event also contains a timed handicap.
The two New Zealand Mile Championships on the Saturday evening is not the end of mile events that weekend with the Snell's Mile Challenge the next day (Sunday January 31) which gives people of all ages and ability a chance to run or walk a mile at the iconic Cooks Gardens. There are generous spot prizes, all win a souvenir medal and all who have entered get free admission to the Pak'n Save Cooks Classic the previous evening. Entries can be made online at www.sporty.co.nz/sportsheritagetrust or at Pak'n Save, 167 Glasgow St.
The Snell's Mile Challenge for many will be the entrée to the New Zealand Masters Games starting the following weekend (February 5).
As with the Cooks Classic entries for the track and field section are already higher than in 2019 and this should serve as a timely reminder for those yet to enter.