Thu, Nov 25, 2021 6:06 AM

Josh’s long-distance dominance

Nelson distance runner Joshua Gill has been nominated for Junior Sportsperson of the Year. Photo: Jonty Dine

Jonty Dine

Joshua Gill relishes the freedom to run in Nelson.

Having grown up in Liverpool, the 16-year-old was forced to navigate a concrete jungle of pedestrians and motorists to get to the fresh country air he craved.

However, after relocating with his family to Aotearoa, Joshua is now spoilt for choice when it comes to places to run.

“There are so many places you can go, the Maitai, Rabbit Island, Saxton. In Liverpool you have to go through the city and breathe in all the traffic and people.”

Joshua says running is his personal form of meditation and the runner's high is the “best feeling.”

“After a run, I just feel better. It’s where I clear my head and feel most at peace.”

The Nelson College student’s dedication to his craft has seen him crowned the fastest cross-country runner in the South Island.

“That was pretty awesome.”

His season also saw him place ninth in nationals and third at the New Zealand Cross-Country Championships in Hawera, running for Tasman.

“I was sitting in seventh and just thought to myself ‘I can do it, just get rid of the pain and fatigue, and leave it all out on the track.’”

A member of Athletics Nelson and the National Academy of Distance Running, Joshua has trained under some incredibly successful coaches.

He began under the astute Greg Lautenslager, who won Coach of the Year five times at the Nelson Sports Awards and is now coached by 2016 Olympian Julian Matthews.

“He knows what he’s talking about.”

It wasn’t until he was nearing the end of his primary school days that Joshua discovered his talent for distance running.

“Our school took a few boys to interschool. It was the first distance race I had run in, and I won, it was amazing. It was just really natural to me.”

Joshua is currently running up to 90km a week for training as he looks to better his personal best times of 9:08 and 4:13 in the 3000 and 1500metres.

The camaraderie he shares with his teammates helps push through any pain barriers.

“I have made my best friends through the sport and there is always the laugh aspect, if you’re not enjoying it there’s no point.”

Entering his final year of college in 2022, Joshua wants to win all the major running events with one he is particularly targeting, the cross-county championships in Nelson.

“The best thing ever would be to win at home.”

With mental strength just as crucial as physical in the world of distance running, Joshua says he still lives the advice once given to him by a teammate.

“You can do as much training as your competitors but if you don’t believe you have won the race before you step on the track, you won’t win.”

Joshua has been nominated for Junior Sportsperson of the Year at the ASB Nelson Sports Awards.

The awards will be presented by Sport Tasman via livestream on the Sport Tasman Facebook page and the Nelson App from 7pm - 9pm on Friday, 3 December.