1. A National Treasure

If the season opener in Boston, USA on the 4th December was any indication of the Indoor Track season to come in the States, then we're in for a fast one. There were rapid times across all events, but it is the men's 5000m that takes centre-stage in this report. A blisteringly fast race saw records broken all throughout the field, with On Athletics Club's Oliver Hoare breaking the Australian & Oceania record for the win. His teammate George Beamish came home in second, smashing the NZ National Record indoors and becoming the second-fastest Kiwi of all-time in the 5000m in the process - his 13:12.53 was only a couple of seconds off Adrian Blincoe's 2008 performance. 
There was also an U20 US Record, an Irish record, and a South African record too, as well as Beamish's compatriot and former NAU teammate Matt Baxter posting a 13:30. Baxter has since claimed that it was the pursuit of his own national record, the High School 3000m, that has driven Beamish to become the athlete he is today. Whatever the reason, we're excited to see what he can do in 2022 after missing a lot of recent racing with injuries. 

(Photo credits:
Top - image by Zeth Peterka

Below - 3 images by Joe Hale)
2. Wilde's Wonderful Win
2021 has been a very impressive year for Hayden Wilde. It seems a lifetime ago that he won the 5000m national title, because he's raced non-stop since that win in March. He kicked off his triathlon season in June, and has since gone on to consistently challenge the best in the sport, including winning the Super League event in London in September, and his infamous Bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in August. He wrapped up his sensational 2021 this weekend by being crowned Xterra World Champion in Maui, Hawaii. Hayden dominated the Xterra junior ranks growing up, and he said that he had always hoped to return, and that the post-Olympic period was an ideal time for him to do so. He picked up where he'd left off on his return, dominating the early portion of the race; running hard from the gun. Bad weather forced the swim to be cancelled, so two runs sandwiched the mountain bike portion of the race. After storming the first run, Wilde was joined by a strong chasing pack for the bike portion, before asserting himself again on the last run segment to then claim the Xterra title.
Fellow Kiwi Jason Savill had a great race too, finishing in 83rd Overall, which earned him 5th in his category. 

(Photo credits: 5 images by Chris Huang)  
3. When Running Is So Much More

Matt Fenn is no stranger to an endurance running challenge. In the last few years he’s completed 5 consecutive days of 50k runs, a 24 hour effort, and earlier this year he set out to run a kilometre for every life lost to suicide in New Zealand in 2020 - not stopping until he reached the total of 654.

Matt is an incredible inspiration, as he does all of this to raise awareness for such worthy causes, and his efforts transcend the sport of running. Nothing epitomises this more than the challenge he set out on at the beginning of December. Matt put up an Instagram post, which encouraged people to begin a conversation - to get people talking about mental health. Matt stated in the post that he would not stop running until that post reached 1 million comments. Not only that, but he was also hoping to run at least 1,000 kilometres in the first ten days, hitting 100km each day as a minimum.

Unfortunately on Day 5, Matt struggled to get going, and soon ended up being taken to hospital. Despite not reaching the distance goal he set out to reach, Matt impressively racked up 421km in just 4 days.

Perhaps more significantly, though, Matt succeeded in starting a conversation on his Instagram post, and beyond. While not the 1 million comments initially targeted, getting any number of people talking about mental health will forever be a success, as reducing stigma and encouraging people to share how they’re feeling can truly save lives. Matt articulated the significance so well when he wrote; “there are times when the success of a journey is not defined by its completeness but instead by the attitude with which it is approached.”

Matt, we commend you. Keep doing what you’re doing.

For more information on the purpose behind this challenge check out I Am Hope, the organisation that Matt’s run promoted. Their work seeks to create societal change around mental health in New Zealand. 

If you or someone you know is seeking help with their mental health, this web page has a collection of resources you can check out.
(Photo credits: Top - image by Reagen Butler
Below - image by Seb Charles)
This edition of The Podium Press was published on the 11th December 2021.

A huge thank you to the incredible photographers who have kindly granted us permission to use their work in this piece; Zeth Peterka, Joe Hale, Chris Huang, Reagen Butler, Seb Charles.
Back to Top