The Robertson twins, who are based in Kenya, set two of the fastest times at the International Chiba Ekiden Relay in Japan to help New Zealand finish seventh in the 15-team international competition.
Running against six-strong national teams (three men and three women) including Kenya, USA, Canada, Japan, Russia and Australia, twins Zane and Jake Robertson both produced the fastest times for their laps and beat athletes with much faster personal best times.
Zane, leading off for New Zealand on a 5km lap, ran with the leading bunch for the early stages before bursting ahead over the last few hundred metres to put the New Zealand team ahead at the first change. Robertson's time of 13 minutes 29 seconds was a big personal best for the distance, taking 29 seconds off the time he recorded in a track race for reserves at the same event last year.
Danielle Ingram-Trevis was the 13th fastest on the 2nd lap, when New Zealand slipped to eighth, but Jake Robertson, a 5000m specialist who made the finals at the 2011 world championships, moved New Zealand up to sixth. His time of 28:40 was the fastest over the 10km lap.
Camille Buscomb, New Zealand 10km champion Tim Hodge and national women's 10km champion Sarah Drought brought New Zealand home to finish seventh, just three seconds behind Canada.
The race, over the full marathon distance, was won by Kenya in 2:05.06 with Japan second and the US third.
The result was a significant improvement for the New Zealand team on 2011 when they placed 11th.
Team Results: Kenya 2:05.06, 1; Japan 2:05.16, 2; US 2:06.36, 3; Russia 2:09.13, 4; Japan Universities 2:09.31, 5; Canada 2:11.01, 6; New Zealand 2:11.04, 7; Chiba 2:12.12, 8; Poland 2:13.02, 9; Romania 2:13.41, 10; Norway 2:14.08, 11; Australia 2:15.19, 12; Finland 2:16.29, 13; South Korea 2:16.42, 14; Czech Republic 2:16.49, 15.
Top Individual Performances
Lap 1 (5km, men): Zane Robertson (New Zealand) 13:29, 1; Suguru Osako (Japan) 13:31, 2; Egor Nikolaev (Russia) 13:37, 3.
Lap 2 (5km, women): Gladys Cherono (Kenya) 14:54, 1; Mika Yoshikawa (Japan) 15:22, 2; Chelsea Reilly (U.S.A.) 15:29, 3. Also: Danielle Ingram-Trevis (New Zealand) 17:01, 13.
Lap 3 (10km, men): Jake Robertson (New Zealand) 28:40, 1; Jacob Riley (U.S.A.) 28:46, 2; Reid Coolsaet (Canada) 28:58, 3.
Lap 4 (5km, women): Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) 15:40, 1; Misaki Onishi (Japan) 16:10, 2; Emma Kertesz (U.S.A.) 16:25, 3. Also: Camille Buscomb (New Zealand) 17:14, 11.
Lap 5 (10km, men): Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) 28:20, 1; Yuichiro Ueno (Japan) 28:46, 2; Philip Mosima (Kenya) 29:27, 3. Also: Tim Hodge (New Zealand) 30:00, 4.
Lap 6 (7.195km, women): Joyce Chepkirui (Kenya) 22:05, 1; Hitomi Niiya (Japan) 22:26, 2; Neely Spence (U.S.A.) 23:30, 3. Also: Sarah Drought (New Zealand) 24:40, 9.