Mile News

Mile ace Nick Willis: How to organize your own track meet

October 01, 2013

Inaugural Running Institute Mile draws 4,000 fans and produces seven men under 4 minutes including winner Willis; 2014 event set for August 10

By SPIKES Magazine

Prior to this year’s athletics world champs, Nick Willis was in desperate need for a competitive race, so he decided to organize his own one Mile event. Find out how he got 4,000 people to turn up and watch…

It has been a season of frustration for the New Zealand’s 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist. Struggling with an ankle injury picked up when hyper-extending his knee in a fall at the Shanghai Diamond League in May, he endured a tough build up to the Moscow 2013 World Championships.

His speed compromised by the injury, Willis was running out of chances to squeeze in a race before Moscow. “I had no option but to organize my own race,” he says.

Here are his five tips for have-a-go race organizers everywhere:

1) Location, location, location

"The first thing we did was to find a high school that would be okay with us using their facility,” says Willis. “The real advantage here was, we were not affiliated with a city track, a club or university, so we didn’t have to appease lots of different interests.

"It didn’t take much. We know the high school coach at Saline High School [Michigan] and it is a pretty tight knit community here. The local high school coach then said: ‘we’ll take care of the parking and all of the volunteers’.”

2) Find a fast field

"I had to co-ordinate the athletes that were coming and in the end it worked out perfectly, because seven runners ran sub-4 minutes for the Mile [Willis won in 3:56.57]. It was the perfect race to prepare me for championship running.

"We didn’t go off too fast, but fast enough with a bit of a kick-finish needed at the end. It was a good level of competition, which allowed my confidence to build going into Moscow."

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