Above: Jake Robertson on his way to fifth place and a national record over 10,000m. Photo by Alan McDonald / Macspeedfoto.
Jake Robertson in his first track race in 12 months, finished a creditable fifth in a high quality 10,000m field with a New Zealand national record of 27:30.90.
This took nearly three seconds off his twin brother Zane’s record set in finishing 12th at the Rio Olympics.
Robertson who had flown in from the States two days ago said although he was wanting a fast time, the New Zealand record was not on his mind.
“I wasn’t actually thinking about the New Zealand record, I was told after I finished, I thought I’d missed it,” he said.
Robertson settled into tenth pace early on and improved steadily as the laps rolled by.
The pace dropped with six laps to go and Robertson went into the lead.
“I said nah I’m not having this, I was having time in my thoughts as I wanted to hold on to a decent time and I did that.”
But with two laps remaining Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda and Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed took off and went neck and neck to the finish. Cheptegei winning in a Games record of 27:19.62 from Ahmed who recorded 27:20.56.
“Credit to them they smashed me in the last two laps I just couldn’t handle that pace. I did pick up but I was just trying to run down whoever I could and I just couldn’t get them,” said Robertson.
The 28 year old who had a best track time of 27:45.46 and a 10km road time equalling his brothers New Zealand record of 27:28 in winning at New Orleans recently said he prefers the road.
“It’s actually been a year since I raced on the track and it’s completely different event and surface to what I’m used to. I’d love to race the guys who beat me tonight on the roads because it would be a different story,” he said.
Robertson said the atmosphere was amazing with all the Kiwi support.
“I couldn’t believe it, was that the Aussies cheering for me? I realised all the Aussies were gone, so they switched sides.”
Robertson will concentrate on preparing for marathons for the rest of the year.
“I’ll probably shoot for the 10,000m at next year’s worlds as my next track race. I have another 10km on the road in about three weeks’ time. Then my main focus is at the end of the year and my second marathon.”
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent