By Nicholas Pointon
Photo: Michael Dawson (Tempo Shot)
Distance runners will be wise to circle February 16 on their calendars after organisers finalised the second ever Distance Carnival Meet at Mount Smart Stadium.
Event organiser Tim Cornish organised the first Distance Carnival event in February which featured a series of paced 1500m races, some personal best times and three World Junior Championship qualifying times.
Next year’s event will include both 1500m and 800m races and will be run in conjunction with the New Zealand 10,000m championship.
Cornish said the inaugural event was influenced by a desire to create a track meet that catered to the needs of middle-distance runners.
Cornish said many runners travelled across the country to compete during the summer months, which could be expensive. The distance festival gave middle distance athletes the conditions they needed to run well.
“I started by surveying athletes, and looked at own experiences, to gauge what it takes to run fast. The key thing is that you want to be able to run with good conditions, ideally under lights, late at night.
“You want to have pacemakers to run at the required pace for a long period, and you want the races to be seeded as well.”
Cornish said the athletes he surveyed wanted to know that such basic variables were taken care of, so they could focus on their race preparation.
“I have shown up to meets and have not had that sort of structure or known those particular components.
“For me, the most frustrating thing is when you target a meet and walk away from that with a missed opportunity, or it wasn’t the right set up.”
The event is also a personal project for Cornish, who has had clubs and coaches volunteer and put time into his development over the years.
He said this was his way to give back to the sport he loves. “It may cost a little to put it on, but it’s my investment into the sport.”
Cornish has not worked entirely alone on the project. He has received support from Athletics New Zealand High-Performance Coach Steve Willis, to develop the meet into an event that attracts international talent in the future.
“One of the goals is to build it up and perhaps look at how we can cater to some international athletes.
“Especially this year with the new IAAF points system that is operating. Whether we can get them to New Zealand – We just don’t know yet,” Willis said.
The IAAF introduced a point-based ranking system in which athletes will collect points across different levels of meets throughout the season to get entry into premier competitions such as the Olympics and World Championships.
An athletes’ position in the rankings would be determined by various aspects of their performances, along with the level of the competition they participated in.
The points system for each event along with other details was finalised earlier this year. The new system will be applied for qualification for the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.