The question, as Athletics Nelson’s Craig Lautenslager surged away from his closest competitor one fourth of the way through Saturday’s New Zealand 10,000m Championships in Inglewood, was not if he would win.
The question was whether he would lap the field. Lautenslager came up a few metres short.
The second finisher was 397m behind – and settled for his first New Zealand track title in 29min51.97sec.
Lautenslager, who graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in May and then promptly took out the New Zealand Cross Country and Half Marathon titles, stormed to the lead on a track laden with 16 male and female competitors aged 15 to 78.
He went through the first kilometre in 2min46sec and only Lake City’s Michael Voss went with him.
“I was trying to hit 72 (second laps) but I felt really good and went through a lot faster than I wanted,” said Lautenslager, who breezed through 5,000m in 14min35sec.
“I paid for it in the second half of the race.”
Voss paid more dearly as he would finish more than three minutes behind Lautenslager and was lapped twice.
Lautenslager lapped some runners more than eight times, and lapped the runner-up in the seniors division, Auckland’s Jonno Jackson, with 500m remaining.
The only runner not lapped was Christchurch’s Chris Dryden, the Men’s Under 20 winner who finished in 30min59.59sec and just short of the qualifying standard for the World Junior Track and Field Championships.
Sally Gibbs of Tauranga won the senior women’s title in 36min22.10sec.
Lautenslager will compete in the 5,000m and 1,500m at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Hamilton, March 9-11.