Willis claims feature race in Wanganui

Last updated 10:00 21/01/2014

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New Zealand's top modern miler Nick Willis, running his first race for 2014, added to the rich history of mile running in Wanganui, winning the feature race and running the 60th sub 4 minute mile in the city.

The clock stopped for Willis at 3:55.98 as he ran his fourth sub 4 minute mile in Wanganui to pull level with the legendary John Walker and Hamish Christensen. Willis' time was the twelfth fastest mile run at Cooks Gardens.

Willis, aiming this season for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, ran behind the pacemaker for the first two laps, before heading out on his own with Malcolm Hicks and Matt hanging on and a chasing bunch headed by Jono Jackson some way back. Hicks finished second, agonising outside the magic mark in 4:00.12, while Harris faded in third.

The New Zealand 1500 metres record holder will race over 800 in Wellington on Friday before heading back to the US to race indoors in Boston and New York on his way to the World Indoor Championships in Poland in early March.

Angie Smit, New Zealand's top women 800 runner showed she is very handy over longer distances with a win in the women mile race. Smit ran from the front with a bunch including young Canterbury distance runner Rosa Flanagan, and former Wanganui runner Caroline Mellsop chasing. Flanagan battled bravely, but Smit had too much speed over the last lap and won in 4:43.66, almost three seconds in front of the youngster.

In the junior men's mile New Zealand schools 1500m champion Jordan Rackham had too much over the last 200m to take the victory in 4:20.79 over the Nelson pair of Jeff Lautenslager and Mike Lowe.

Eliza McCartney cleared an excellent 4.10 in in challenging conditions in the Pole Vault, just 1cm below her U19, U18 and U17 national records. The men vaulted after the rain became heavier and while the heights were not as high as expected, the competition was close with Australian Max Mischenko just edging Pascal Kethers on the countback, both clearing 4.80.

The wet conditions were not conducive to great heights for high jumpers, but Jordan Peters grabbed a win over five times national champion Billy Crayford clearing 2.05while Liz Lamb from Auckland cleared 1.75 in the women's contest for the win.

The sprinters didn't disappoint either, with New Zealand's dual sprint champion Joseph Millar from Tauranga taking out the men's 100 in 10.60 and the 200m in 21.28, the latter with a legal wind. World youth champs rep Zoe Hobbs, theTaranaki 16 year old won the women's 100 in 11.89 and followed up with victory in the 200m in 24.31 from Louise Jones in 24.36, both athletes recording personal bests.

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Hobbs also added a third victory, in the women's long jump with a best jump of 5.48, while Matthew Wyatt jumped 7.17 to win the men's event. Siositina Hakeai took out the women's discus with 52.55 from Te Rina Keena.

- Fairfax Media

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