Peter Wheeler from Pakuranga Athletics Club took out the National 3000m Championships at the Porritt Track and Field Classic held recently in Hamilton.
It was the first national title for the middle distance runner and a big accomplishment after an injury forced him out of his usual training regime for three months last year.
“I was aqua jogging every day to maintain fitness. Coming into summer I had a few months where I was able to build back up into some consistent training and that’s just starting to pay off now,” he said.
He says while he’d prepared for a fast race, the large field of 30 competitors meant the race turned tactical.
“These championship events often turn into sit and kick races. Even though the event is 3000m (7.5 laps of the track), you really need a good amount of raw speed to avoid getting buried in the last 400m.
“I kept in contact with the leaders for the first seven laps and closed the last 200m in 26 seconds to get the win.”
Wheeler, who has been running since primary school, says while he’s had a few minor placing medals before, he’s never managed to pull off a win at the national level.
“I actually think Dave (coach) was more excited than I was!”
He says the highlight of his athletics career so far was running a 1500m personal best of 3:48:20 at the New Zealand Commonwealth Games trials in January where he placed 4th.
He has a long term goal of a sub four minute mile — and he’s close.
“A four minute mile converts to a 3:42 1500m so I am currently a few seconds off.
“It has taken me a while to realise that the secret to racing is not about digging deep for more than you’re capable of, it’s about knowing exactly what you are capable of. “