28 Nov 2018

Six reasons to check out the Night of 5’s on Dec 21st

Six reasons to check out the Night of 5’s on Dec 21st

Author: Page Admin  /  Categories: News  / 
The Night of 5’s has developed into a high point of the pre-Christmas domestic track and field campaign for the New Zealand endurance community. Here we highlight six reasons why the action at AUT Millennium on Auckland’s North Shore on December 21 is an absolute must for both athletes and spectators.

Set a PB 

The meet was created in 2011 by Paul Hamblyn, the Bays Athletics middle-distance coach, as an opportunity for athletes to run a quick 5000m in premium conditions. 

“We wanted to set up a distance carnival with good pacemakers at a time late in the evening, which was conducive to fast times,” explains Paul, who finished fourth in the 1500m at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. 

“New Zealand has limited racing opportunities and we hoped the pre-Christmas timing would be a good fit for both the cross country runners coming off the winter season and middle-distance athletes wanting an early season 5000m hit-out.” 

The Nick Willis factor

There is no question Nick Willis has been in the jewel in the crown of New Zealand middle-distance running for more than a decade and with the US-based athlete committed to competing at the meet, where he is chasing a sub-13:30 time, he will be the marquee name.

Willis’ presence is a real coup for both spectators and athletes alike, according to Paul.

“Nick is now aged 35 and this is a great chance to watch him run in New Zealand,” he says. “Meanwhile, if you are a 15-minute 5k runner the Night of 5s is a great opportunity you probably otherwise would not get to compete against Nick.”

Witness a meet record

The men’s 5000m A final is unquestionably the flagship event and since the 2012 edition the winner has chased the Blincoe Cup – named after the New Zealand 5000m record-holder Adrian Blincoe.

Aaron Pulford is a four-time former winner and Daniel Balchin is the defending champion. However, Malcolm Hicks holds the meet record after his impressive 13:49.64 clocking in 2015 – a mark which could be distinctly vulnerable during this year’s race.

See a top-quality 5000m race

Nick Willis may be the star turn in the men’s 5000m but the race oozes quality. The two-time Olympic 1500m medallist will not be in for an easy ride as he faces red-hot Australian Jack Rayner, who recently won the inaugural Commonwealth Half-Marathon title in Cardiff in 61:01. Watch out to for US-based Kiwi Julian Oakley, who finished ninth in the 3000m at the World Indoor Championships in March, and who boasts a handy PB of 13:46.54.

Eric Speakman and New Zealand 1500m champion Hamish Carson are expected to share the pace-making duties and hope to take the field through 3000m in 8:10.

Watch a top-class race walker

Commonwealth Games 20km race walking silver medallist Alana Barber has requested the opportunity to race (as a race walker) in the mixed/social 5000m race. Alana was one of the big New Zealand success stories on Gold Coast and the night represents a great opportunity to acknowledge her talents. 

The women’s A 5000m is also stocked full of talent with 2018 Commonwealth Games 5000m and 10,000m athlete Camille Buscomb – a 15:19 performer at her best - expected to feature. Also on the schedule are men’s 800m races, a men’s B 5000m and age-group races over 800m and 2000m. 

Enjoy the unique atmosphere

Replicating the mood of the hugely popular Highgate Harriers Night of the 10k PBs in England, the 2018 Night of 5’s promises to be a little different. Runners will pass through a 12m-long marquee during the race while a live DJ will provide the entertainment. Meanwhile, athletes will have the chance to experience a free food and drink area.

A 6m long bridge running from lane four to the infield will also allow spectators the chance to enter the in-field to observe the action.

“This is not like a traditional meet where you have to watch from the grandstand or outside of lane eight,” explains Paul. “Here we can push the boundaries a little and get nice and close to the action. I would say to anyone come along, bring a beanbag and have a picnic. We have food and music an great commentary. It is a good family event, which is free for spectators.”

***Note, Jack Rayner and Camille Buscomb will 100 per cent confirm their attendance at the Night of 5’s after the Zatopek meeting in Melbourne on December 13.


Number of views (1601)      Comments (0)


Search News

News Archive

Copyright 2020 by Athletics New Zealand