This event is now in its 15th year and forms part
of a series of premier track and field meetings that are seen as an essential
prelude to the national championships which this year will be held in
Christchurch over 3 days
The city turned on a stunning day and with the strong fields
that were lining up for the various events then PB’s were certain with meeting records at risk.
As it turned out it
was a successful day for the Aussies who crossed the ditch.
In the elite men’s 100m Edward Nketia (Australia) and Joseph Millar, the current national champion battled it out in a tight finish which
ended in a virtual dead heat. Nketia got the win but both he and Miller were credited with the same of 10.50.
Auckland sprinter Zoe Hobbs dominated the 100m and 200m
races breaking the meeting records for both. Hobbs is clearly in top form which
sets her up for a good day at the national champs.
The Capital Classic is usually an annual event for Olympian
Nick Willis who uses his visit back home to show the flag and to prepare for
selective races back in the USA.
He lined up in the 8oom along with rising star
Sam Tanner (Tauranga) who pretty much wins all the age grade races he enters.
Spectators were treated to a great finish with Tanner mowing down Willis in the
home straight which looked like a genuine win.
Tanner’s time of 1.49.42 was a PB but just fell short of the meet record of 1.48.42 set by Australian Alex Rowe in 2017 but which would have been remarkable if broken.
Watching the finish of this race reminded me of the finish of the Wanganui Mayoral Mile a decade or so back when Willis in his pre Commonwealth Games days got the scalp of Olympian Craig Mottram.
The two big events of the night were the men’s and women’s
3000m championship races both run as the sun was sinking with the park bathed in the period of blue light filtered by the surrounding trees.
Buscomb got down to work and cleared out from the gun. She put an early large
gap between her and the rest of the field which made her lead unassailable.
Running solo is tough and risky but Buscomb worked
hard to maintain her pace with the aim of nabbing the meeting record 9.07.85. But despite the great
effort she missed this by 1 second with 9.08.62.
A huge field of 33 or so lined up for the men’s championship
With a classy field ready to go toe-to-toe and near perfect conditions for fast
times it was all go.
Nick Willis was the pacemaker and tucked behind him were some
of the country’s best distance runners, plus Australian Rorey Hunter.
When Willis stepped off the track after about
1600m Rorey Hunter took over the lead pulling further ahead as the race progressed. Looking good it seemed the race was his for the taking while behind him the rest of the field battled it out.
Hunter’s winning time of 7.53.31 was a PB
and broke the meeting record of 7.56.19 set by Hamish Carson in 2015. In second
place was Central Otago based Daniel Balchin with Simon Rogers (who ran a great
race) picking up third. When the championship medals were dished out they went to Balchin, Rogers and Matthew Taylor (HB-Gisborne)