It’s a sprawling complex
of playing fields and other recreational facilities. It covers around 64
hectares and incorporates a large arena complex and separate gymnasium and rec
centre plus an equally impressive clubrooms the home of the Ardmore and Marist Rugby
Even on a Sunday the park was being well used by cricket, with kids
ripping around a mini motocross course watched by concerned parents. Kids on
bikes, parents showing how the ball should be kicked, it was all go.
The park is so big that it needs internal roads to get
around and it was these roads that were used for the road champs course.
course was all flat unless you count the speed bumps as hills. There were some
sharp corners, and some odd twisty bits in funny places but overall it was safe
but hopeless as a spectator course.
In fact most people just stayed close to
the start finish line just outside the rugby clubrooms.
The only exciting thing
was that this stretch included a turnaround which forced runners to go through
a big puddle or two. Photographers might be tempted to see what they could get
here (reflections and splashing etc) but it does not compare to the possibilities
found at Shaw Baton or the Dorne Cup. So I gave that a miss and went to the
nether regions of the course where I could get shots that reduced shooting into
the light and of course the opportunity to chat to the marshals to get the inside
info and gossip.
There was multi-cam live streaming of all events including the race
walking. Hayden Shearman, the owner of TempoFit, did the video commentary which is something that Rees Buck would be good at.
I shouldn’t be surprised but I was disappointed at the low
numbers showing up for championship event.
Of those participating, a big number
were under 16 kids who were in non-champ races. Typically the big fields are in
the masters grades, but let’s not make excuses here the overall numbers participating
is quite disturbing and I don’t know what ANZ are doing to address this even
though increasing the participation rate in championship events is a strategic
Typically these national events are where you catch up with
people. So even though I was working I managed to get to chat to Graham Mackay,
Lois Grimmer and Dallas McCallum. I also told Dan Balchin, as I have always do,
he needs to get some running mates in Central Otago because I know from experience
that training down there can be a lonely affair. One day he might listen.
highlight for me was catching up with Debbie Telfer and super coach and
national treasure, Lance Smith. Earlier this year Lance was awarded the
inaugural recipient of the Arthur Eustace Coaching Award and I can’t think of
anybody more deserving. The award was presented by new ANZ CEO Peter Pfitzinger who I think will be great in the role.
reminded Pete that we had met before away back when he came to NZ (he married
Chrissie Munro who was a top Kiwi athlete) and won a big marathon (I can’t remember
Pete visited Wellington for a few days and I was in a group of three
locals who took him out for an after work run over some of the hills. As I
recall my running mates were Kevin Norquay (WHAC) and Bryce Phizachlea (Vic
Uni). At the time Norquay was a sports journalist with the Dom Post and is now
the director of sport at Fairfax Media. Some of the old timers will remember him.
To cut a long story short, the hill run (Wellington from the hills is a magnificent
sight) we went on was clearly too much for Pete so we had to cautiously escort
him back to his hotel (St George). When I reminded Pete of this he told me it
was 1983 and then said something else.
He told me that the day before he had
gone out for a run with Roger Robinson, also in the hills, but had got diarrhoea.
So in hindsight, if we had known that beforehand that he was fragile and recovering
we might have just taken him for a short stint around the bays or better still
to a pub.
I blame Norquay for not using his investigative journalistic skills
enough to get to the bottom of this.