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About the Academy

The National Academy of Distance Running was launched in August 2009 as a registered charitable trust with the aim of providing world-class coaching to athletes, but more importantly to teach essential life skills – hard work, commitment, dedication, teamwork, discipline – that lead to healthy, productive lives. Academy runners have gone on to win school honours, earn university degrees and become doctors, lawyers, school teachers, bankers, pharmacists, designers, and excellent parents. They make an impact on society and inspire others to do the same. That is major focus of the National Academy of Distance Running.


The Academy’s Coach and Director, Greg Lautenslager, is a former world-class runner whose Nelson-based athletes have collected 292 national medals and many New Zealand individual and team titles and several records since moving to New Zealand in 2001. His Lydiard approach to training comes from 47 years in the sport and coaches – like Dick Quax, Bob Sevene, and Dr. Robert Vaughan – who trained him and personal advice from several other Lydiard disciples and Arthur Lydiard himself. Lautenslager devises long-term training schedules for his athletes and puts them on the path to world-class running, while teaching them life skills that guide them to become successful at whatever path they follow. Read more


Anyone in secondary school or above and at any level, from beginner to seasoned veteran. Coach Lautenslager encourages young runners to participate in other sports and activities, allowing them to develop slowly with the possibility of someday focusing on running. You don’t even have to live in Nelson. Several of Coach Lautenslager’s runners live in Motueka and Marlborough. He also writes training programmes to athletes all over New Zealand and in the United States, Thailand, and many other countries, and offers advice via e-mail.

Read more about the services offered and fill out an application form on “Programmes” on our home page.


Simply, because that is where Coach Lautenslager lives. He couldn’t have chosen a better place to live or to train.  The city has miles and miles of running trails right out your front door. They traverse along rivers and streams, up hills and mountains, around beaches and bays. .Within an hour’s drive from the city you will find even more dramatic trails at the Abel Tasman National Park in one direction and the Nelson Lakes National Park in the other.

Nelson has a million dollar Mondo track and have use of the adjacent Saxton Oval – complete with a meeting room, changing rooms, toilets, showers, first aid room, and a large lounge. More than a dozen meets – including the Harold Nelson Classic, the Mahar Cup, and the Tasman Secondary Schools Athletics Championships have been held at the Saxton Field Athletics Track. Saxton Track also has hosted the New Zealand Junior 3,000m Championships, the New Zealand Masters Championships, the Colgate Games, and the South Island Secondary Schools Athletics Championships. Next to the track are massive grassy playing fields where athletes do fartlek workouts and where the 2009 New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships was held.

Then there is the climate – mild winters and summers rarely forces runners to train in anything other than T-shirt and shorts. The air is clean and crisp and the surrounding mountains protect the area from adverse wind conditions.