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Saturday, March 30, 2019

2019 Wellington 5000m Champs Newtown Park Sat 30 Mar


This race, or should I say races, are getting a reputation as an opportunity to do a PB and demolish your rivals.  

Like last year, there was a large entry list which necessitated splitting the event into several races.  

In 2018 there were two races and this year there were three. The entry list was seeded so the fastest went into the A race, the next fastest group made up the B race with a C race to follow.

Because the line-ups for all 3 races were large, an echelon start was deployed with the two streams merging at the 100m mark, not unlike how 800m race’s work.

The A race last year was won by Dan Jones who was missing this year. So too were a number of others including Niam Macdonald, Rowan Hooper, Malcolm Hodge, #MadHarry (did the 400m instead), Colin Sasse, Logan Slee, and Hugh O’Donaghue to name a few.  

Stephen Day may have been relieved that Andrew Wharton was content to watch from the sidelines but he is unlikely to admit it.

The results from 2018 seem to have disappeared from the Athletics Wellington website, so it is difficult to compare this year's times with last year. Still conditions were good if nit a bit warm and performances will reflect this with plenty of personal bests achieved.   

Rees Buck did the on-field commentating and as usual did a very professional job. Alan Stevens designed the start and finish and organised the thousands of extras who became the lap counters. Marshall Clark held the starting gun thing and I think it was probably Colin McLachlan helping with lining them up. Helen Willis and John Turner had the sought after job of giving out place numbers while Sharon Wray was in charge of the media pack.

Managing the control room and electronic timing was Peter Baillie and the team while the task of being scrunched over the computer looking after entries and results was Michael Du Toit a job he now has for life. 

I have included race reports below and there are a couple of photos after that. 

Race 1 – A Seeded

So the gun goes in the A race. 

Hiro Tanimoto wastes no time in hitting the front and nek minit he is running solo with the main pack way back.  Hiro is not one to do things by halves and he warmed up for the 5 by doing a 1500m earlier in the afternoon. He did the same last Saturday by running a 1500m and a 3000m. Like a shark ya gotta keep moving.

With Hiro T ut front it was up to the following bunch to sort themselves out. 

The following bunch of 10 was in itself a bit strung out and it didn’t take long for this to split up into several smaller groups . 

On lap 2 coming through the start finish line it was a defined bunch of six that was leading the chase. This group was comprised on Ryan McAlister, Ben Twyman, Thomas Strawbridge, Stephen Day, Bert Prendergast and Jerome Edwards, all in that order. 

The next group of three that had been dropped from the original 10 included Angus Weymss, Dom Godfrey and Dan Hunt.  Anthony Jackson the backmarker of the leading 10 was now adrift.

Behind the two leading packs I have named was a larger elongated procession of runners led by Alasdair Saunders with Finn Molloy and Maiya Christini, the leading woman amongst them. Well behind Maiya were the other two women the in the race Tina Faulkner and Nicole Mitchell.

Fast forward a lap or two and Hiro had increased his lead by about 100m and seemed to be pulling even further ahead. He is a machine today.  

The six amigos are still a group with Bert Prendergast now leading and Ryan McAlister sitting right at the back. Alasdair Saunders had now caught up with Anthony Jackson and the rest of his group wouldn’t be far off doing the same. Maiya Christini is still looking very comfortable.

With six laps to go Hiro was still well out in front but the following group of six was now reduced to 3 made up of the Ben and Bert show and young Thomas Strawbridge.Lagging behind and trying to get on to the back was Stephen Day who was followed by Ryan McAlister and Jerome Edwards who had been well and truly dropped. The next bunch of 3 comprised of Angus Weymss, Dom Godfrey and Dan Hunt were still intact so Dan would have been more than happy.

The field remained substantially in order for the next few laps although Alasdair Saunders had moved up and was about to get onto the back of the Dan Hunt trio.

Meanwhile Maiya’s big group could no longer be considered a group with most strung out over 100m. By my reckoning she was about 13th overall at this stage.

With well over half the race gone Hiro was beginning to lap the tail-enders in the field. The lead in the Ben, Bert and Thomas show was being shared and Dan Hunt’s group of 3 which in the meantime had expanded to 5 with the addition of Alasdair Saunders and Chris Wharam. Angus Weymss still led the group although Alasdair Saunders looked like he was going to change this. Squeezed in between these two groups were the casualties so far namely Stephen Day, Ryan McAlister and Jerome Edwards all in no mans’ land.

With two laps to go Hiro looked unassailable. 

The following group of three though, looked as if it was beginning to become strung out as Ben Twyman had put in a break. Bert Prendergast was a few metres back with Thomas Strawbridge behind him.   Stephen Day who was running in 5th place looked like he was making a comeback putting in a concerted effort to catch the Bert and Ben show. Ryan McAlister on the other hand was not having a good day at the office and nor was Jerome Edwards.

Alasdair Saunders had now taken over leading the Dan Hunt group of 3 which became 5 and now didn’t really include Dan. The new group was made up of Alasdair, Angus Weymss and Dom Godfrey  

Maiya Christini was now in about 16th place overall which left Tina Faulkner as the only other woman in the race with Nicole Mitchell having pulled out.  

At the start of the bell lap Hiro Tanimoto was timed at just over 14 minutes with 400m to go.  

Coming through in 2nd place overall was Ben Twyman with Bert Prendergast about 3.5 metres back. Stephen Day was going great guns moving past Thomas Strawbridge to hold 4rd place with a lap to go. Next came Ryan McAlister who probably just wanted it to all end

The next 3 runners all in single file were led by Angus Weymss a 1500m specialist from Nelson having taken back his lead over Alasdair Saunders.  Dan Hunt was still back further a bit having run a respectable race so far and no doubt thinking about the Shaw Baton.

Hiro T finishes first but surprise-surprise it is Bert Prendergast who nails the silver with a strong finish having caught up with and taken over the lead from Ben Twyman all in the space of 400m. Ben’s downfall was the wind drag of his facial hair but in the meantime the rivalry continues.

The unofficial top placings are as follows:
Hiro Tanimoto (Scottish)
Bert Prendergast (Scottish)
Ben Twyman (Scottish)
Stephen Day (Scottish first master)
Thomas Strawbridge (Trentham)
Angus Weymss (Vic Uni)
Ryan McAlister (WHAC)
Dan Hunt (Vic Uni)
Alasdair Saunders (Scottish)

Dom Godfrey (Scottish)


Race 2 – B Seeded

This race included a few top local women including Mel Aitken, Ayesha Shafi and Lindsay Barwick. 

The 20 runners in this race were led out by Josh Jordan the 14yo kid from Upper Hutt with the big heart and even bigger lungs. A determined Bill Twiss was next and always up for a fast race.

At the end of lap 1 it was Andrew Thompson of Olympic Harriers and Josh Jordan running side by side leading the race. The field was strung out but there were no breakaway groups forming at this stage. Ayesha Shafi was the first of the women though with Mel Aitken and Lindsay Barwick further back but only a metre apart.

After 1km it was still Josh Jordan in front while Hayden Snell had moved up to 2nd place with Andrew Thompson in 3rd place. The field was becoming slightly stretched at this point but this is to be expected.

After about 2.5 laps the field was becoming spread out with Josh Jordan still leading by about two metres. Most still looked comfortable at this pace. Lindsay Barwick had overtaken Mel Aitken and was about 4 metres ahead by the start finish line.

By the following lap things had changed up front, Hayden Snell now led Josh Jordan with Liam Jones sitting back in 3rd spot. There was a couple of metres further back to a group of 4 who were just making sure they did not lose total contact with the leaders. This group included Geoff Ferry, Stephen Bass and Walter Somerville. Bill Twiss was next followed by Paul Hewitson.  The field was starting to break up and re-form.

Lindsay Barwick was running solo but had her eye on the next large group who she was pushing to catch up with. Mel Aitken was now well adrift.

Coming around for the next lap the leading 3 were still in order but had put an extra two metres on the following bunch of 4, which was the Geoff Ferry group. Ayesha Shafi was now in about 12th place overall but Lindsay Barwick was only about 30 metres back.  

The leading group were around again with no change although they seemed to be getting even further away from the trailing Geoff Ferry group of 4 which soon would be a group of 5 all in single file with Bill Twiss just tagging in on the back. Ayesha Shafi looked as if she was tiring with a couple of places lost while Lindsay Barwick on the other hand looked anything but. 

Another 400m completed in the race and the leading group of  3 was now just 2 with Hayden Snell  and Josh Jordan holding the 1 and 2 spots.  Liam Jones had lost a lot of ground in the lap just gone and was now vulnerable to the following Geoff Ferry group of 3 who were running well and closing in. Bill T’s membership of this group had been short-lived and he was now struggling to stay in contact. He would soon be out the back door to share the same fate with Andrew Thompson.

Ayesha Shafi continues to struggle and Lindsay B can smell blood.

How far to go now?

And around they come again after 10 minutes and 30 seconds of running. Hayden Snell is still leading Josh Jordan and if anything it looks like they may have picked up the pace although the speed they are going at could be deceptive without knowing lap times.  The following Geoff Ferry group of 3 has become 4 once again but only because they have picked up a tiring Liam Jones who now sits at the back of this group but for how long.
After this group and well strung out are Bill Twiss, Andrew Thompson and Paul Hewitson, all looking isolated and lonely.

Lindsay Barwick still has Ayesha Shafi in her sights but trying to catch her is turning out to be a slow process.   Mel Aitken is just chugging along but given her endurance race record could probably go into Sunday at the same pace. Go Mel!

The leaders are back through with Josh Jordan now getting himself slightly ahead of Hayden Snell who may be suffering from the effects of pace and distance. Still there is nothing certain about the outcome of this race. Both have now started to lap the slower runners.  The following Geoff Ferry bunch of 4 is back to 3 again with a slowing Liam Jones now a goner.

Ayesha Shafi  comes past the start finish again but Lindsay Barwick is on fire and now within 4 metres of catching her.

Here comes Josh Jordan again and he has opened up an even bigger gap on Hayden Snell. The following Geoff Ferry group of 3 has now become 2 and appear to be closing in on the leaders. This strategic move from the duo involves Stephen Bass and Geoff Ferry.
Liam Jones is still in the race and Andrew Thompson has nailed Bill Twiss. Paul Hewitson is trying to hold onto his place but a determined looking Jim Jones might have other ideas about that.

Lindsay Barwick looking incredibly strong has picked up and is now well ahead of Ayesha Shafi.

Another lap completed and there has been a big move by Geoff Ferry who has made a decisive move to drop Stephen Bass and pass a tiring Hayden Snell. Mr Ferry is closing in fast on Josh Jordan who by now must be feeling the effects of his work in mostly leading this race. 

So at this stage in the race with the bell lap coming up it is Josh Jordan, Geoff Ferry, Hayden Snell, Stephen Bass and Walter Somerville. Then we have Andrew Thompson, Liam Jones, Paul Hewitson and Bill Twiss.

Lindsay Barwick is running magnificently and the 3 women in the race are now 1, 2 and 3 in order on the track but with big gaps between them.  

By the bell lap Geoff Ferry has caught and passed Josh Jordan who has done so much work up until this point. He put up a good fight but being the smallest competitor in the field he needs more leg turnover to cover the same distance as others. 

So its finish time and Geoff Gerry the win from the unlucky Josh Jordan. Stephen Bass comes in 3rd which will make him happy. Lindsay Barwick storms home after putting on a strong performance.   
The unofficial top placings are as follows:
Geoff Ferry (Scottish)
Josh Jordan (Upper Hutt)
Stephen Bass (Scottish)
Hayden Snell (WHAC)
Walter Somerville (Scottish)
Andrew Thompson (Olympic)
Liam Jones (Scottish)
Bill Twiss (Scottish)
Paul Hewitson (WHAC)
Jim Jones (Scottish)

Race 3 – C Seeded

Another sizeable field and it was another chance to become part of history.

And they are off.

First away and into the lead is Sam Williams from the Karori Club. After the first 200m he is 5m ahead of the rest of the field and I hope he knows that this race is over 5,000m and not 1500m.  Behind him is the main bunch seemingly content to let him go, at least for the moment. The following four runners lead a much strung out field even this early in the race. It includes Denis McCarthy from the Vic Uni club and Brad Wong, Chris Howard and Mel Stevens all of Scottish. At this stage Letha Whitham, the second woman past the start finish line is in about 12th position.

After 600m and passing the start finish line for the second time the lead is still held by Sam Williams, the Karori Kid still on a steady pace and if anything he has opened the gap on the rest of the field. By now Letha Whitham is in 8th place and is clearly making an effort to move up.  Near the back of the bus Brian Hayes of WHAC one of the three 72 year olds in the field is sitting behind Michelle Van Looy, the Olympic Club President. 

By the next lap the Karori Kid still leads by a reasonable margin, but on the following group behind him there have been some changes.  Denis McCarthy is still holding on to his 2nd place with Chris Howard a stride length behind. Brad Wong looks like he has lost a metre or two and by now Letha Whitham has moved up to 5th place and is right behind Mel Stevens.

By the start finish line at the end of lap 4 the Karori Kid still leads but there is a hint that he could be slowing. But it’s a bit early to tell for sure.  Letha Whitham has now passed both Mel Stevens and Brad Wong and is now on the shoulder of Denis McCarthy challenging for the No 2 spot.

It's the next lap already and Letha W has caught the Karori Kid who has definitely dropped his pace. Just behind these two front runners are Chris Howard, Denis McCarthy and Mel Stevens all in a line with about 1.5m separating them each. Brad Wong seems to have dropped off the back, so is it all over for him?

So it must be close to halfway in the race but don't quote me. Letha Whitham now leads with Sam Williams the Karori Kid fading to 4th and about to go back even further.  Denis McCarthy is also now out the back door and is just a slip behind Brad Wong. The leaders are now passing the slower runners who have been well and truly lapped.

They are back around again which is making me dizzy and Letha Whitham has put in a burner to try and get a decent break but Chris Howard has gone with her. In third place and also trying to up the work rate is Mel Stevens with Brad Wong, Denis McCarthy and the Karori Kid still in the race but are in danger of being caught by a closing group of 7 runners.

A lap and a minute or so later the only change is that Mel Stevens has managed to come up to 3rd place to join Chris Howard and Letha Whitham. Brad W follows but is off the pace. Denis McCarthy is in the same boat and the Karori Kid has been caught by the gang of 7 and is now virtually jogging along. 

Not sure how many laps to go but the field is all strung out around the whole track with a smattering of defined groups here and there but plenty of runners doing it hard on their own. The situation is fluid.

The leaders are coming through the start finish again and there is no change. All three in the bunch look comfortable although I know from experience that can be deceptive. But hello is that Brad Wong making a big effort to try and reattach himself to the group.  Behind Brad W its Willie Gunn making a determined effort to get up to the front group which could be a challenge at this stage of the race. The Karori Kid is gone.

400m later the change at the front is that Mel Stevens has moved into 2nd just behind Letha Whitham. Chris Howard holds 3rd place while Brad Wong has just about caught up.

Back around they come to the start finish line and Brad Wong has not only caught up with the group but now holds the lead. This bold  move must have surprised the leaders. The two leading women, Letha and Mel still look as if they are holding their own but Chris Howard has fallen off the pace slightly and may be feeling the effects of running around an athletics track like a hamster. Much further back and I would suggest no threat is Willie Gunn. I think at this stage when they come around again they are going to get the bell.

And here they come and there’s the bell activated I suspect by John Hines a professionally trained athletics bell ringer. Brad Wong with 400m to go is trying to stretch it out and by doing so has left Letha W and Chris H behind. But not Mel Stevens who is still within striking distance. Has Brad timed his remarkable race comeback perfectly or has he gone too soon?

With 200m to go Mel Stevens snatched the lead from Brad Wong storming home to win with a remarkable performance in anybody’s book. Coming in 2nd was Brad Wong who should be mighty pleased with his excellent run, especially by making a strong comeback after it appeared he was dead in the water during the middle stages of the race.   Chris Howard came in 3rd and Letha Witham was 4th to be the second woman home.

The unofficial top placings are as follows:
Mel Stevens (Scottish)
Brad Wong (Scottish)
Chris Howard (Scottish)
Letha Whitham (WHAC)
Willie Gunn (WHAC)
Terry Fraser (WHAC)
Denis McCarthy (Vic Uni)
Miranda Spencer (WHAC)
Dian Gamperle (Scottish)

Hayden Smith (Scottish)

5000m Race 1 Photos 

5000m Race 2 Photos

5000m Race 3 Photos