Runners’ Testimonials

JULIAN MATTHEWS

2006 New Zealand Secondary Schools 1,500 metres champion, sub-four miler, NCAA 1,500m finalist

“I met Greg in my last year of intermediate. At this stage I had just been introduced to the sport of running and was competing in both track and cross country meets around the region. Although I had experienced reasonable success at these first meets, it wasn’t until Greg took me under his wing that I quickly discovered a natural aptitude for the sport, and it was then through his passion that I was encouraged to pursue my running further.

Not only did Greg become my running coach, he became a close friend; and most importantly, a mentor for my sport and life surrounding it. It was through his friendly nature and unwavering confidence in his own knowledge that helped make it so easy to form the strong relationship we have. I had never considered running to be a sport I’d pursue simply because it was not a ‘team’ sport, but with Greg, I felt like he and I were a team. I relied on his coaching and guidance and he relied on me to give my absolute best. I believe that this sense of teamwork has played an important part in the successes we have had together. Greg made significant sacrifices in order to be my coach. He would spend hours down at Trafalgar Park for our training sessions, these hours being spent away from his family and friends. What also made Greg such a great coach and mentor was that he led by example, showing me the key skills and concepts needed to succeed not only on the track but also in life in general. Through emphasising the importance of sticking to his schedule and turning up to practise, he taught me discipline. Through allowing me to make the ultimate decisions about my training and how much work I put in, he taught me responsibility and the importance of hard work. His encouragement and desire for me to achieve personal milestones never failed to inspire.

Greg’s technical knowledge of the sport is very sound and can be easily justified in the number of years he has been both running and coaching, and obviously by tracking (excuse the pun), the consistently high achievements of his runners in Nelson over the past half decade. There is no doubt in my mind that without Greg’s influence I would never had made it to where I am now, running for Auburn University against some of the best collegiate runners in the world.

Aside from Greg’s expert technical ability when it comes to coaching running, he also has the talent of attracting people of all ages and skill-bases to the sport, and more importantly, keeping them interested and involved. He has had a huge effect on the numbers involved in athletics in Nelson; I remember my first training session with Greg where there were only 5 other runners, all of which were in their teens; and now, after only 7 years, over 40 people of all ages and skills train together under Greg. The positive effects of sporting involvement for a community have been proven time and time again, and if Greg is given the chance to remain here in Nelson, I have no doubt that these effects will continue positively to permeate the wider Nelson society. It would be tragic for Nelson to lose such a valuable, dedicated and generous coach, a combination that is not easy to come by these days.”

MANDY RUSS

2005 New Zealand Women’s 19 and under 1,500 metres champion.

“If I could name one person in my life who has always believed in me, encouraged my talent and helped me pursue my goals it would be Greg. Greg first came out to take over coaching of our group about 7 years ago and since then I have seen Greg give 100% to me and every other athlete who has joined our group. Taking his time to talk to each athlete, write training plans and encouraging us by running along side. But most coaches do this. . . Greg just gives more than most coaches I have seen. Nearly each day of the week he is collecting kids from school to go for a training run, and taking them home. The most memorable moments would be visiting Greg, down stairs where on a makeshift massage table he would spend hours telling me stories and working on my legs. Greg always told me he would take me as far as I want to go with my running, national title and a full ride scholarship to America is where I am so far.

He has been one of the biggest influences in my life, and so many of the other talented athletes I have had a privilege to train with.”

DOMINIC CHANNON

New Zealand Men’s 18 and under 3,000 metres record-holder.

“Greg ‘The Slammer’ Lautenslager. At my first Inter-house athletic competition some friends of mine had encouraged me to run in the 1500m to make up points. I went out hard with the leaders and held on. To this day I do not physically remember winning but I remember the surprise that accompanied the win. Greg introduced himself to me in an instant. He was to become, from the moment I met him, whether I liked it or not, my future. I began to train with the team on a rather irregular basis with a growing desire to challenge myself further.
Greg became more than just a coach of distance running to me. I am not sure whether it would be correct to say that he developed into a mentor for me or to say that I grew to be his firm believer and follower. Greg created a safe haven for me away from school and home life. He adopted me as not only an athlete but as a friend and as a student of his wisdom. The pride and happiness that Greg showed when an athlete performed was truly an inspiration in itself. I gained such a strong desire to perform to my highest ability not only for my own personal satisfaction but because it brought me joy and fulfilment to see that Coach Slammer had taken pride in me achieving and surpassing my goals and his expectations. Greg as a mentor has inspired me to reach my potential through hard work and diligence. The sport of running has changed my life and guided me to where I am today and to where I believe running can take me. The gift of running, to me, was somewhat provided by Greg. If it weren’t for my friends urging me to take part that day, or for Greg to be there on his typical recruiting trip then the path that I take in life would almost certainly be headed in an entirely different direction.

I remember looking forward to practice every afternoon just to see Greg; to join him on the drive home. He would tell stories and reminisce upon running trips he had taken in the past. The favourite times with Greg were, for me, the drive home late on a Thursday evening when he would talk about the upcoming race and how I should strategize on race day. He would accompany the race plan with a goal of his, for me. Every one of his predictions or goals that he had set for me, I achieved; if not, I surpassed. Greg’s ability lies in his simple yet ever-so effective training methods. How does Greg achieve over 100 National Junior medals in the space of four years? This question can be asked, but can it be answered? I believe only Greg knows the answer to that. ”

DALLAS BOWDEN

New Zealand Men’s 16 and under 1,500 metres record-holder.

“Five years ago Greg Lautenslager asked me to be a part of his training group, I had no idea at the time that this was the single greatest opportunity I would ever be offered.
Greg is the type of coach that comes around every blue moon, not only has he shared his years of wisdom and experience with me but he has been my motivator, inspiration and above all a loyal friend.

Under his guidance we have achieved many feats. He has taken me from being a 5.15min 1500m runner at age 13 to a 3.46min runner at age 16. This now stands as the NZ men 16 1500m record. He gives his athletes unparallel confidence in their abilities. When training under Greg you have no doubts, no fear and every belief that you will succeed. These qualities not only take over in your sport but in every day life. Without Greg I would have missed out on many amazing opportunities – opportunities that every young athlete should have the chance to experience. Greg has a lot to offer in so many ways, and I’ll forever be grateful for his selfless time and effort he has put into getting me thus far in life.

Greg has a unique bond with all his athletes. I am one of many who appreciate the kind of coach Greg is and I hope that many others will also recognise his talents with people.”