Inaugural Millie Sampson WU23 Invitational Mile
Athletics Auckland is excited to announce the inaugural Millie Sampson WU23 Invitational Mile race will be run on Saturday, January 14th at Yvette Williams Track, Pakuranga. during the AAI McKinnon Shield #6 Meet.
The prizemoney being awarded will be identical with that for the John Walker MU20 Invitational Mile which is being raced on the same date.
1st Place $600
2nd Place $400
3rd place $250
Auckland athletes for both the Millie Sampson WU23 and John Walker Junior Miles will be selected by the Auckland Centre, with invitations going out to all other New Zealand Centres to nominate athletes to represent their Region.
The new Mile race for U23 Women is aimed at providing a competitive incentive for female athletes in their late teens and early twenties to stay in the sport of athletics. Athletes who are interested in being selected to take part in the Millie Sampson or John Walker Mile races should send an expression of interest to their local Centre.
Born in Clevedon in 1933, Millie Sampson (nee Bellingham) first competed for Howick Athletics Club, however she gave up athletics at age 16, playing rep softball and netball, and then basketball for 10 years. Millie married in 1959 and did not take up running seriously again until she was 27, joining a women’s distance training group and revealing a natural aptitude and love for endurance running. Millie was a trailblazer for New Zealand women, training alongside men and competing at a time when some in officialdom thought women not capable of running marathon or cross-country events.
Millie won the Auckland Women’s Half-Mile Championship in 1961 in an Auckland record of 2:24 at Mt Smart and was the first New Zealand woman to break 5 minutes for the mile, running 4:58.7 in 1964. On August 16, 1964, in her first race at the distance, Millie ran a World Best Performance for the women’s marathon, with a time of 3:19:33 in the Owairaka Club Marathon in Auckland.
Millie was also a 3-time National Cross-Country titleholder, winning the first official NZ Women’s Cross-Country title in 1966, and winning again in 1968 and 1972. Suffering from arthritis in her foot, Millie retired from competitive athletics at the age of 40, however she maintained her interest in the sport through coaching and also serving on the Athletics Auckland Committee.
Millie still lives in Auckland and is looking forward to being on hand to see the inaugural race which has been named in her honour.