20 Jan 2016

Willis wins Cooks Classic mile

5:28 am on 20 January 2016

New Zealand's top distance runner, Nick Willis, proved his class by cruising to victory in the Cooks Classic mile in Wanganui last night.

New Zealand athlete Nick Willis.

New Zealand athlete Nick Willis. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Olympic silver medallist trounced the field of top New Zealanders and a few Australians, finishing in a time of 3:55.56.

Running well inside the magic four minute mile barrier, the Michigan based Hutt Valley athlete became the first to record five sub four minute miles at Cooks Gardens, first made famous by Peter Snell when he broke the world record fifty four years ago.

Willis also won the 800m feature race at the Potts Classic in Hastings on Sunday.

Before the race, Willis was tied on four with another world mile record holder, Sir John Walker (1974 - 1985) and Hamish Christensen (1997 - 2001).

Behind Willis' 3:55.56, fellow New Zealanders Hamish Carson (3:56.72) and Eric Speakman (3:57.30) ran personal bests to secure the 62nd and 63rd sub four minute miles at the renowned track.

Just outside the sought after time was Australian Craig Huffer (4:00.12) and New Zealand Commonwealth Games 1500m finalist Julian Matthews (4:00.86).

Te Awamutu athlete Katherine Marshall, now based in Wales, won the women's mile after a tussle with Australians Amelia Mazza-Downie and Heidi Demio.

Marshall's winning time was 4:46.71.

Women's sprinters again took the limelight with Lucy Sheat storming home over 200m to beat Zoe Hobbs and Georgia Hulls in 24.31 into a brisk head wind.

The Marlborough athlete repeated the impressive finish she demonstrated over 100m in Hastings three days earlier.

Joseph Millar was equally impressive over 200m, winning the men's race with ease in 21.39, also into the wind.

Phil Simms (Hamilton) and Anna Percy (Christchurch) were winners in the 400m hurdles races stopping the clock at 52.55 and 62.42 respectively.

Scott Burch and Meg Hamilton-Reid were the fastest over 400m.

The circuit now moves to Wellington for the Capital Classic on Friday.