Reeling in leaders was music to the ears of Harry Dixon

The last time Harry Dixon raced at the Saxton Field Athletics Track, about 10 years ago, he had a plane to catch. On his return to Saxton on Wednesday for the distance medley relay at the Athletics Nelson Twilight Series Meet, he had runners to catch.
Dixon’s last race was a mile at a Twilight Series Meet not long after the new mondo track was laid and less than hour before he had to board a flight. He returned to a newly resurfaced track and a new generation of runners competing in the annual relay run in the order of 1200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m and sorted from a pool of 20 runners into evenly matched teams to a certain theme. This year the theme was musical groups.
Between races at Saxton the three-time New Zealand junior track and cross country champion ran a 14:12 5,000m while competing for Eastern Michigan University, trained for several years in Flagstaff, Arizona, and completed a half marathon in 1:04. Dixon returned to New Zealand early last year to attend veterinary school at Massey University.
On Wednesday Dixon watched his team, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, go from first on Tom Somerville’s opening leg to last following legs by Hayley Bond and Dave Riddell. By then the leaders Oliver McCormack of Steven Tyler, Josh Gill of The Carpenters, and Matt Bowen of The Beatles were more than 30 seconds ahead.
Dixon looked over to the 200 mark and said, “I’ll never catch them.”
Race director Greg Lautenslager  pointed to Blaze Bayley’s George Varney, who was only 80 metres ahead and said, “I would be more worried about him.
He was right.
Dixon blew by the three younger lads early on the final lap but had to work hard to get past Varney. He finally burst by Varney on the final turn and finished a second ahead with his 4:23 1,600m leg.
Tom Petty won in 11:56.21 followed by Blaze Bayley in 11:57.39. Steven Tyler was third in 11:58.00, The Carpenters fourth in 12:05.54, and The Beatles fifth in 12:08.65.
For full results and splits go to
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Participants in the annual Distance Medley Relay at the first Athletics Nelson Twilight Series Meet of 2020.
Back row L-R: Charlotte Carpenter, Sophie Thomas, Heidi Stephens, Dave Riddell, Harry Dixon, Liam O’Donnell, George Varney, Tom Somerville, Jamie Shaw, Angus Wemyss, Josh Barry, Luke Kelly. Middle row: Hayley Bond, Eloise Beatty, Samantha Hardie, Josh Gill, Oliver McCormack, Fenlon Bayley.  Front row: Meet director Greg Lautenslager and Matt Bowen.