Athletics like you’ve never seen before comes to Melbourne on Saturday, December 2, when our best homegrown middle-distance runners line up for one of Australia’s most prestigious meets, the ZÁTOPEK:10, which is being given the On Track Nights treatment at Lakeside Stadium.
On Track Nights: ZÁTOPEK:10 is redefining the athletics event experience. It’s not just about the competition, it’s also a celebration. The evening promises fast racing across all divisions, from amateurs to pros, and an immersive experience for spectators, including DJ sets and a special performance from ARIA winning act, Peking Duk.
Fans can expect a fusion of world-class athletics with festival vibes – including beer tunnels, flash tattoos, an over-the-track bridge, food trucks and pyrotechnics. There’s no need for fans to settle for the sidelines when they can stand above the action and feel the rush as athletes zoom beneath their feet. On Track Nights is bringing loud crowds, fast times, and breathing new life into racing.
Tearing up the rulebook, these events bring fans closer to the action than ever. It’s where local clubs toe the line next to international track stars. Where it’s less polite applause and more raucous noise. Where it’s far from a typical track night, with events that are deep-rooted in the community, bringing excitement, local flavour and an unforgettable atmosphere for runners and spectators alike.
Spanning more than six decades, The ZÁTOPEK meet is synonymous with world-class 10,000m track racing. From Ron Clarke’s world record performances in the 1960s through to Stewart McSweyn’s 2019 Australian record broken at ZÁTOPEK:10 in 2022 by Jack Rayner. This event has showcased the best Australian distance racing talent for generations and given international athletes the ability to take part in a highly competitive and prestigious 25-lap race.
The race card at Lakeside Stadium next month for both men and women includes the 600m, 3000m, 3000m (U20), 10,000m, Pole Vault, Shot put and Mile (U16).
The meet is best known for hosting the Chemist Warehouse Australian 10000m Championship, but the races slated for the evening will also feature some of the fastest high schoolers in the country with men’s and women’s mile races, as well as the 3,000m junior Australian title.
Australia’s best and brightest middle-distance runners will be part of the action. The On Athletics Club (OAC) Oceania division coached by Craig Mottram will put their competitors through their paces.
World Championship team members Claudia Hollingsworth and Tess Kirsopp-Cole, 1500m sensation Maudie Skyring, young gun Zach Facioni and Olympian Bendere Oboya are part of the team selected by Mottram supported by global performance brand On as part of their international track club, which has been in operation since 2020.
There is also a 5km community run, which starts at 4.00pm and finishes at Lakeside Stadum before the main event. Competition starts at 5.30pm with the Steve Hooker Pole Vault Team Challenge, and the night culminates with an epic live performance.
“We know that race atmosphere is pivotal to performance, so we want to bring the fans and running community closer to the track and have them be part of the athlete’s journey to major championships,” Olivier Berhard, co-founder of On said.
“We want to make running even more of a spectator sport, and we want to bring the entire running community together.”
Athletics Victoria CEO, Matthew Duck, said that the partnership extension with ON works to the betterment of the sport.
“Athletics Victoria’s partnership with On is a great match, as we share a desire to honour our traditions while innovating and elevating the experience for our people. To that end, Athletics Victoria is delighted to be partnering with On in the delivery of ZÁTOPEK:10 2023, one of the most historically significant events on the annual athletics calendar,” he said.
“ZÁTOPEK:10 2023 will see innovations to both the race program and spectator experience, taking the event to new heights. Combining the organisational expertise of AV with the innovative approach that On are bringing to global athletics events, we look forward to furthering our partnership with On, and showcasing our sport to both new and existing audiences.”
Melbourne’s rich history of athletics and commitment to sports influenced the decision to bring On Track Nights to the city. Large events, like the 1956 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games, attracted spectators and fans from around the world to Melbourne. Most recently, the city hosted six Women’s World Cup matches over the summer, and annually welcomes the top tennis talent to the Australian Open.
Events on the night include:
- Chemist Warehouse Australian 10,000m Championship Male and Female
- U20 de Castella Male and U20 Ondieki Female 3000m – first time as the U20 Australian Championships
- 4x400m Male and Female Victorian Open Relays
- 4 x 400m Masters record attempt
- 3000m Male and Female
- 600m Male and Female
- U16 Hillardt Male and Jamieson Female
- Steve Hooker Pole Vault Team Challenge
- Shot Put Team Challenge
- Plus a Community 5km run
Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children aged 11-17. Children 10 and under are admitted free.