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Aaron Pulford wins 10000m

Aaron Pulford

New Zealand 10,000m Championships, Mt Smart Stadium – 26 January 2014

Aaron Pulford was back in the winners circle after an absence of three years with a convincing run to collect his first senior track title winning the 10,000m in 29:47.09.

He ran most of the race with Wellington’s Hamish Carson on his shoulder. They passed through the 5000m mark in 14:51  but with four laps of the 25 lap journey remaining, Pulford made a decisive break and Carson, the three times national 1500m champion, was unable to respond.

As Carson dropped back, he was in danger of losing second place to a fast finishing Jono Jackson from Auckland, but he did enough in the last lap to hold out Jackson.

Both runners recorded personal best times of 30:10.38 and 30:16.93 respectively.

Wanaka’s Oska Inkster-Baynes placed fourth in a personal best 30:31.41, his fourth personal best in a busy eight days of racing around the North Island. Defending champion Caden Shields of Otago was fifth in 31:03.21, half a minute quicker than he ran last year in Timaru.

Pulford, from Thames, the national junior 10,000m champion in 2010 and 2011 and national half marathon champion in 2010, said that he was scared of Carson as he had out kicked him in the Christchurch half marathon last June.

“I was a bit scared because I knew at the Christchurch half marathon I underestimated Hamish so I knew I really had to dig deep with five laps to go because I could hear him kind of grunting a bit and it was the only time I was going to get away from him. If he was with me with a lap to go I knew that he’d really dig deep and put something in,” said Pulford.

“I’m stoked to win as I haven’t won a national title since 2011, I’ve always been coming second or third lately,” he added.

Pulford said that he had peaked for the Zatopek 10,000m in Melbourne last month where he ran a personal best 29:06.74.

“I tried to hold that form, but ended up going back to a build up three weeks ago. So I just ran this race for a bit of strength – I’ll now do some good quality training and then go over to America in April and try and run a good 10k there and after that decide what the rest of the plan is – either try a good half marathon or if I get the Commonwealth Games 10k B standard, go to the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

He plans to run the 1500m at the New Zealand championships in Wellington as a bit of a blow out before going to the States.

It was Carson’s debut over 10,000m on the track.

“It maybe the first and last,” said Carson with a smile.

“Obviously he is a bit fitter than us,” he added in response to Pulford’s victory.

Carson said that he has come back from a few injuries and it was good to be back racing on the track.

“Seeing I was in my build up I thought I’d give the 10k a go and it was a good effort to get me back on track. But I’m definitely still focussing on the 1500m and going for another one in March.”

Rookie 10km track runner Lydia O’Donnell was the clear winner in the women’s championship although she was beaten to the line by visiting Australian Sarah Klein who was also debuting over 10km on the track. Klein’s winning time was 34:53.99 while O’Donnell from Auckland recorded a personal best of 35:05.53 taking out the New Zealand title. Fellow Aucklanders Alice Mason (37:40.66) and Kelly Parlane (39:07.00) filled the minor placings.

O’Donnell was delighted to win her first national senior title.

“It’s a good buzz. The field wasn’t that big but it was a good start to the season,” she said.

Being her first race over the distance she didn’t know how it would go.

“I had set lap times and I was under for the first half (covered in 17:00) and then I gradually slowed a bit. The Aussie passed me in the last 800m and I tried to sprint but my kick isn’t that great – but it is a good start,” said O’Donnell.

“I’ll put in another good month of training and then maybe do a few shorter distances and then head over to Aussie and do a few races over there and see how it goes,” she added.

O’Donnell who was third in the 2011 national road champs and third in the 2012 national 1500m said that she would be doing the 5000m at this year’s nationals.

Matthew Dryden of Christchurch Avon, won his first national title, taking the gold medal in the junior men’s grade in 33:38.07.


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