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Sunday, November 10, 2019

2019 The Agency Group Festival of 10ks Newtown Park Sat 9 Nov

There were some great performances on Saturday but are these two the real heroes? 

A new world record plus a sub-30 minute 10km were the highlights from the second running of The Agency 10,000 festival. 

Made up of 3x10k track races the event attracts big fields with a number from outside of the region. The attraction is the prospect of fast time and PBs. But nobody was expecting a world record.

I imagine there would be some nervousness about how the day would turn out and whether the wind and rain experienced for the previous 10 days would abate sufficiently. Last year it was a brilliant day for the inaugural event with a truck load of PBs and the first Agency sub-30 minute as the result. 

This year it was quite different with Wellington’s spring weather showing its malicious side.  A gusty northerly wind along with high humidity put a dampener on the party which resulted in a number of dropouts. 

In the elite invitational race Hamish Carson was hoping to get below 30 minutes and no doubt this hope was shared by several of the other elite runners in the field including Oska Inkster-Baynes, Chris Dryden and Tama Christensen.  Some of the local runners such as Niam MacDonald, Hiro Tanimoto and Seamus Kane would not be complaining if they were able to shave minutes or seconds off their PBs.  

The pacer in the elite race was Otago’s Oli Chignell who set a quick pace to pull Hamish through for the first 7 or 8 km. This was a fast two horse carriage that whizzed around the track lapping quickly most. It is a rare sight to see such class in action at Newtown Park. 

At one stage it looked as if Hamish was dropping off but he quickly came back and worked hard in a solo run over the last few km’s to finish in an excellent 29.39. 

Battling it out for 2nd and 3rd place were Oska Inkster-Baynes and Chris Dryden. These two fought for supremacy throughout the race with the lead changing more than once.  Finally it was Dryden who managed to pull ahead to finish in a personal best time of 30.29.  Inkster-Baynes finished in 30.39 which is about 12 seconds off his best. 

One can only speculate how he and everyone in the day’s racing would have gone if the weather conditions had been better. On this point it was noted there were a lot of DNF's and I suspect that these people, other than the pacers, decided to call it quits rather than struggle to the end.

The other highlight was in the A seeded race when running legend Sally Gibbs smashed the world masters track 10k record for the women’s 55 age grade. Her time of 36.46 took just over 7 seconds of the old records, When you consider that it was pretty windy out on the track her performance is extra impressive.

Similar to last year the event was well organised with a lot of people involved in making it work. But what makes this meeting special is the atmosphere generated by big fields and good spectator support. It feels at lot more festive than a standard track meeting.  A feature of the event was the spectator support at cowbell alley which allowed people onto the middle of the track much closer to the action. 

Even the spontaneity of the tunnel of heroes to welcome the Lindsay Young and Anna Breen, the last two competitors to finish, is not something that you will see often.

On the microphone(s) doing the race commentary were Bert Prendergast and James Turner. A risky decision by the organisers but it seemed to work out okay.

See below for official race report:

“The highlight of the night was Sally Gibbs breaking the World Record for W55s with her time of 36.46.96. Sally holds numerous New Zealand age-group records as well as world titles and New Zealand titles, but she has never broken an age-group world record before. 

She and several other runners requested NZ World Trail Running representative Tim Rabone pace them through to 36.40. Tim's pack slowly dwindled away to just Sally. Several times she looked like she was struggling to stay on his heels before rallying and holding on. With about eight laps to go the crowd increasingly realised the world age group record was possible and came down onto the track to urge Sally on. Sally takes the record off Germany's Silke Schmidt set in Ohrdruf Germany in 2015. Interestingly the W55 world record which was also the New Zealand record had been set at Newtown Park before by Bernie Portenski in 2006 at 37:22.37.

Ruby Muir was the next fastest woman on Saturday at 39:57.63.

In the last race of the night Hamish Carson, paced by Oli Chignell, rapidly pulled away from Oska Baynes and Chris Dryden opening up a big lead. He was not able to sustain the 29 minute pace he set out at but still finished on a blustery night with the fastest time in New Zealand this year and a PB of 29:39.28. Oska and Chris traded the lead a couple of times before Chris made a strong move with a kilometre to go to take second place in a new PB of 30:29.39. Baynes clocked 30:39.36 followed by Hiro Tanimoko 31:54.67, Niam Macdonald 32:20.23, Tama Christensen 32:23.08, Mark Moore 32:33.45, Mark Paterson 32:58.95.”

Invitational Race Photos

Race A Photos (to come)

B Race Photos

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