Sound preparation brings rewards

Runners start the Dick Tayler commemorative national 10,000m race at the Caledonian Ground on...
Runners start the Dick Tayler commemorative national 10,000m race at the Caledonian Ground on Saturday night. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The fact it was his birthday proved only an afterthought as winning the Dick Tayler 10,000m and his first New Zealand track title took priority for Rotorua runner Michael Voss.

Voss, a three-time Rotorua Marathon champion who turned 27 on Saturday, used the past four weeks on leave from his work as a builder to prepare for the championship race at the Caledonian Ground.

He knew that to honour Tayler’s Commonwealth Games heroics in a meeting named in his honour, and to win his first New Zealand track title, it would come down to being the best prepared, just as Tayler was 50 years ago.

Voss’s endurance background and preparation were to the fore from the start as he wasted little time in forcing the pace of the race in a high-profile field containing sub-four minute miler and 2022 10,000m champion Julian Oakley (Tauranga), defending champion Christopher Dryden (Canterbury), and national steeplechase champion Michael Sutton (Tauranga).

"The goal was to come in and do a sub-29 [minute]", Voss said.

"I settled in pretty good and things happened."

After the first two of the 25 laps, he appeared comfortable, holding a 20m lead.

Oakley, Dryden and Sutton initially appeared undeterred by the front-running tactic coming from Voss.

Sutton drifted off the pace at about the halfway stage, before Oakley broke away from Dryden and attempted to close the gap to the leader.

Voss had already bolted, and continued to extend his lead on Oakley with every lap and hold a 33sec advantage at the bell, coasting home to claim the title in 29min 29.37sec.

A strong last lap from Oakley gave him the silver medal in 29min 45.09sec, Dryden winning the bronze in 30min 11sec.

"I wanted to give it an honest crack, especially with Julian in the race," Voss said.

"I know he’s got a fast kick, so knew I had to go hard. I wasn’t expecting to be by myself for the whole race, but that’s how it went."

Voss said his target was to run 70sec laps and crack the 29min mark.

"I knew that was always going to be a bit of a push."

Spurred on by supportive wife Michaella, Voss still managed to post a personal best by 55sec.

It also handed him the full set of medals in the national 10,000m championship, after silver in 2019 and bronze in 2020.

Next up for Voss is the 50km Tarawera Ultra 50km in mid-February, followed by the 5000m national championship and the Rotorua Marathon.