Willis begins 2013 season in Whanganui

New Zealand runner Nick Willis begins his 2013 season with a mile race at Cooks Gardens in Whanganui on Tuesday.

Willis will face two-time national 1500m champion Hamish Carson, along with Matthew Coloe of Australia and Sam Petty from Britain in the mile event at Cooks Gardens, which is hosting round three of the Athletics NZ Grand Prix Series.

Willis will attempt to add to the 58 sub-four minute miles run at Cooks Gardens since Peter Snell ran the first, a 3min 54.4sec mile which broke the world record in 1962.

Whanganui's national 800m champion Brad Mathas will start as a pacemaker in an attempt to ensure the time goes under the four minute mark.

Willis, now 29, a silver medallist in the Olympic 1500m in Beijing in 2008, ran his fastest 1500m in 2012 but disappointed when finishing ninth in the Olympic final in London.

Another London Olympian, Lucy Van Dalen, heads the field for the women's mile.

Van Dalen, 23, who hails from Whanganui, was a semi-finalist at London and has a best time for the mile of 4:31.78, set at the Cork City Games in Ireland.

A similar effort would see her break Anne Audain's 1983 New Zealand resident record of 4:33.93. The presence of national 800m champion Angie Smit could help her.