Chignell performs well in blustery run

Oli Chignell. Photo: ODT files
Oli Chignell. Photo: ODT files
Oli Chignell had his eyes on his first senior Otago record.

He fell short of that. But the consolation on Saturday was not too bad.

In the first track 10,000m of his career, he delivered a 28min 48sec performance in winds of 30kmh-40kmh in Wellington.
It was the fastest time on New Zealand soil in 17 years.

The last time a New Zealander ran that fast at home was believed to be in February 2003, when Johnathan Wyatt, Blair Martin and Phil Costley all went below the mark in Inglewood.

In recent years, only brothers Jake and Zane Robertson - the two fastest New Zealanders over the distance - and Matt Baxter had gone faster, but all had run their times overseas.

It was an encouraging performance for Chignell, who was confident of taking David Rush’s Otago record of 28min 40sec when conditions allowed.

He said the blustery conditions made it a ‘‘pretty tough night’’, particularly when pacemakers

Hayden Wilde, Sam Tanner and Evan Cooper dropped off with 3km to go.

That left Chignell running alone out in front — he was a minute ahead of second-placed Christopher Dryden.

He had hoped to run 68sec laps, but ended up going a second slower for most of the race.

Despite that, he had been pleased with the run.

The conditions had changed the race plan, and he had gone out more conservatively, in order to save some energy for the end.

It had also been his first time running the distance in a competitive track race, something he said he had to keep reminding himself.

Alongside that, it was less than a year since he suffered a stress fracture which stopped him running for two months from last December to February.

‘‘I think if you’re looking at the grand scheme of things it was definitely a good run,’’ he said.

‘‘I think it’s a year on December 10 when I got my stress fracture.

‘‘So if you’re thinking about only one year coming back from a sacrum stress fracture to running under 29 minutes on the track in blustery conditions, it’s holding good signs for this season.’’

To break into New Zealand’s top 25 he will have to surpass Murray Halberg’s personal best of 28min33sec.

He was unsure when he would next run a 10,000m, as his focus would now turn to the 5000m.

In two weekends’ time he will attempt to break Blair Martin’s Otago record of 13min 40sec over that distance.

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