Sport runs in the family

By Catherine Smithmeets

Catherine Smithmeets a group of North Shore kids preparing to run for the country

Runners from Belmont Intermediate School are already in training for the Anza Challenge Race. Photo / Chris Gorman
Runners from Belmont Intermediate School are already in training for the Anza Challenge Race. Photo / Chris Gorman

We all know the saying "if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it".

Michelle Millington has taken that adage even one step further than your average busy parent.

The sporty mother and tireless volunteer - in the past month she's organised the school sports camp for 40 kids, helped the kids at the North Harbour cross-country champs and a sports exchange with a country school, on top of her regular netball coaching - has corralled some of Belmont Intermediate School's keenest runners to join the ANZA challenge New Zealand Herald schools' 5km Race for Charity on October 20.

A quiet month for her is merely running a family of four sports, dance and debate-mad kids to their activities, as well as running her family business.

"I read about the challenge in the Herald and thought it would be fantastic thing for the kids to be involved in," she says. "My family all love running and I thought it would be a fantastic charity to support." All the entry fees from the inaugural transtasman charity event go to the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, which helps disabled young people experience the community of sport.

Michelle's daughter Kate and her friends Arabella Maynard and Abby Harris, all aged 12, are all North Harbour school cross-country champs, about to compete in the Auckland regionals. The trio came first, second and third respectively in their age band.

Similarly, two of the ANZA challenge boys, Murdoch McIntyre and Alexander White (both 11), took first and second in their rounds. Murdoch's older brother Angus and friend Ewart Bower (12) are also involved.

For these kids, running is as natural as breathing, but the Anza Challenge has the added bonus of local kids donning the black of our national sporting kit (the Aussies will wear yellow). They are pretty chuffed about that.

"I'd be proud to beat Australia," says Murdoch. "Yeah, I've never [played] versus Australia, so it would make me feel so good," chimes in Alexander. "I'm always running for the school, but this is my first time wearing black," Arabella adds.

Michelle is proud of the effort the kids make for the sport on their own. Most compete all winter in rugby, football or netball, run cross-country and then gear up for either touch rugby or club athletics (or both) through the summer.

Kate frequently runs the 3.5km home from school.

Michelle occasionally joins the kids, but confesses that that makes the family dog, staffy-lab Lola thoroughly confused, as Mum lags behind while the kids sprint on ahead. "They don't have to be persuaded, they are always up for something," she says. "You want them to have a go at everything, and wearing black is something they'll really enjoy," she adds.

One suspects that we might be seeing a bit more of these young athletes wearing black in Tokyo 2020, but in the meantime, we'll be proudly cheering them on at the Domain next month.


Black vs Yellow

You can compete for your country too.

The gruelling 1300km Anza Challenge starts from Wellington on Tuesday, October 15 and covers the South Island before heading up the country to finish on Sunday, October 20 with simultaneous public runs in Auckland and Sydney. Sporting greats and celebrities representing New Zealand and Australia - Olympic, Commonwealth and world champion athletes, sporting and media personalities will run, row, cycle and sail around in bothe countries over five days.

Schools can join the final stages in simultaneous 5km (age 11-18) or 10km (over-18) races. The combined times from the national race and the public races will determine which nation wins the ANZA Challenge.

Auckland Domain, Sunday, October 20. The schools' 5km race starts at 11am, the adults' 10km race at 11.15am. Entry is $45 for an individual or $35 a person for school groups. Register at anzachallenge.com or email schools@anzachallenge.com for school group information packs and bookings.


Be in to win

The New Zealand Herald is giving away 10 group entries (consisting of 10 entries each) into the New Zealand Herald Schools 5km, open to intermediate and secondary school kids aged 11-18.

But you'll have to be quick, as entries close at end of day on Monday, September 16.

To nominate your school go to Anzachallenge, fill in the form at the bottom of the page and tell us why your kids deserve to be part of this inaugural transtasman race for charity.

- NZ Herald

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