New Zealand Cross Country Championships, Grenada North Park - 5 August 2018

Oli Chignell and Lisa Cross won the senior titles at the New Zealand Cross Country Champs at a very muddy North Grenada Park yesterday.

The senior mens 10km was a torrid affair with first Cameron Graves, then Peter Wheeler (both Auckland),and Oli Chignell (Otago) taking turns on the pace in the difficult conditions. Daniel Balchin (Canterbury) and Joshua Baan (Otago) were also in the leading bunch for the early stages of the race. Baan was the first to crack, and then Graves fell off the pace when Chignell applied the pressure at the 6km mark.

As Chignell pressed the pace, only Wheeler was able to respond, but the diminutive 20 year old Otago runner, who was a surprise winner of the 2017 Under 20 title, was not to be denied and went on to win his second senior title (the first was the 5000m track in 2018) with a margin of 16 seconds, with another 26 seconds back to Graves who worked hard to overhaul Balchin.

Chignell said that he stuck to the plan set by his coach Chris Pilone.

"The plan ultimately was just to stick in and do what was required. I had a feeling just because Im so light and a lot more than other people in the race, my coach Chris and I thought I would pull away. I was feeling really good around 4k to go so I moved to the front on the down-hill and I just kept moving forward.

"It looks like Ive got a bit of a target on my back for the road champs and then the road relay champs where our Hill City University team has got a really good looking team," said Chignell.

Pilone believes Chignell has a promising future in the sport.

"Hes very talented. Im taking him and Sam Bremer to Europe next year with the aim of getting Oli faster over 5000m," said Pilone.

Cross went straight to the font of the womens field from fellow Aucklander Penny Peskett and Otagos Rebecca Greene on the first of five laps in the 10km race.

Peskett (41) worked hard over the middle stages of the race to make up the 30 metre deficit and grab a five metre lead at the half way mark but the 35 year old Cross fought back to take the lead and went on to extend the margin to win by 23 seconds.

Cross said the conditions were terrible.

"That was grass out there like nothing else, that was wow, that was hard," was Cross reaction coming through the finishing chute.

"I havent done a lot of cross country, the only other ones were Waikanae and Christchurch so this was really terrible."

The former Lisa Robertson said she has worked hard to get her fitness back.

"Since having two kids its been to get my speed back.

"I was hoping to get a greater lead over Penny so I could recover in parts. She overtook me at half way around the back of the course, so wherever it was firm I just had to bolt that was all I could do.

"Im now looking to get faster over the half marathon and Im doing the Auckland half marathon," said Cross.

Peskett said she was beaten by a better runner on the day.

"The mud was fun and we had a tussle most of the way but she is strong and she ran really well," said Peskett.

The Under 20 titles went to Canterbury teammates Christopher Dryden and Navajo Prentice while Under 18 winners were Liam Back (Manawatu/Wanganui) and Aimee Fergusson (Waikato BOP).

Dryden just back from the world junior championships said that the tack training held him in good stead for the muddy course.

"Thats my first cross country race of the year and I knew I had the 10,000m training in me and I knew Im a strong runner. It was hard in that mud and getting out of it as quickly as possible. Im happy to come up with the under 20 title in my last year as a junior. I had motivation today from the Crusaders back to back win last night.

"Ill do the road champs and then the Auckland half marathon and road relay champs," he said.

Backs coach Alec McNab is on holiday in Scotland and left instructions to run the race and have fun as a build up for Australia.

"It was a pretty tough race with Will Anthony and Murdoch pushing hard from the start. It was a bit slow through the middle patch and I came home quick.

"Ive got a few boggy courses that we have to run back home in Wanganui in preparation for races like this. I find that they build up muscle groups. And when Im home at the farm with my dad, hes always standing out there with a stop watch saying come on get through the mud man, get through the mud this is going to pay off one day and I thank him so much for that," said Back.

Murdoch McIntyre who as second to Back said "the first lap was just to get an idea of the course and see how the mud plays out and then over the next two laps run it nice and hard on the flat to get a bit of pace up and hopefully be able to survive through the mud was the plan, and sometimes it comes together but today it didnt."

Ferguson who is coached by Kevin Bradley said she was pleased to win after finishing third at both the New Zealand secondary schools and North Island championships.

"The mud was ankle deep in places and it felt like I was running on water a bit, but I managed to get through it and I was getting a bit tired towards the end."

Steve Rees-Jones was a class act in the master mens 8km winning outright in 30:10.

The former English runner said he enjoyed the course and the conditions.

"It was good fun running with the juniors today which made it more interesting. It was nice to be in the mud as we dont get that too often. Its like good old English cross country what I was brought up on, so I love it, the muddier the better really," said Rees-Jones.

Sally Gibbs progress in the master womens 6km was handicapped towards the end after losing a shoe in the mud early on. She led for most of the way but was overtaken by Canterburys Joanna Buick on the last lap.

The former New Zealand road cycling representative said that it was only her third year running cross country.

"I past Sally on the second hurdle on the last lap and stayed in front of her through to the finish.

"This is my first year of cracking the podium, in only my third attempt at the nationals.

"I cycled in my 20s for New Zealand and then took a break once I had my children and since then running has been far more time efficient way of keeping fit," said Buick.

Joseph Morgan of Hamilton City Hawks won the boys under 15 3km and Bella Earl of Whangarei, who is coached by the newly elected President of Athletics New Zealand Ian Babe, won the girls under 15 3km.


Copthorne Solway Park Winter Series, Colin Pugh Sportsbowl, 25 July: Boys 5000m, Michael Macklin 17:32.82, William Prior 17:42.79, Corey Miller 19:59.58. Boys 1000m, Brooke Medlin 3:49.14.


Street Mile, Invercargill - 4 August 2018

The annual St Pauls Street Mile down Invercargills Queens Drive was won for the second year in a row by Albie Small (17), St Pauls), narrowly from Glen MacIntosh (Invercargill), 5:00 to 5:02, with Craig Iversen (Invercargill) third in 5:07. Winners were aided by the fact that Southlands best runners (Albies twin brother Buddy and Dwight Grieve) were in Wellington for the national cross country champs. Small took the lead early with MacIntosh pushing hard but younger legs triumphed at the finish. MacIntosh was first of the masters men. The womans race was won by first timer Emily Hay (14, St Pauls) by centimetres from last years winner Brianna Miller (18, Gore), with Hay credited with 5.53. Thomas Coillard (6:03, St Pauls) and Kimberley Iversen (6:22, Invercargill) were best of the young runners. Debbie Telfer (Invercargill) was first masters woman.


Beach to Beacon 10km Road Race, Cape Elizabeth, Maine - 4 August 2018

In his first race since setting a New Zealand 10,000m record at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Jake Robertson blitzed the field in the annual Beach to Beacon 10km road race, winning in 27:37. His winning margin of 50 seconds over Kenyan Stephen Sambu is the largest in the race history. Maine native and 2016 winner Ben True was third in 28:29.

Robertsons time was nine seconds shy of the race record and also just outside the New Zealand record of 27:28 that he jointly holds with his twin brother Zane.


Meeting Voor Mon, Kessel-Lo, 4 August: Cameron French 400m hurdles 50.24 (1), Campbell Wu 400m hurdles 55.35 (6).


Open Grade Meeting, Wimbledon, 1 August: Ben Moynihan 3000m 8:14.04 PB (4R7). Georgie Grgec 3000m 9:27.53 PB (8R3M).


Ian Babe from Whangarei was elected Athletics New Zealands next President at the 131st AGM of the national athletics body in Wellington on Saturday.

The well-respected coach takes over the reins from Dianne Rodger who completed her 12 month term at the weekend.

Rodger, from Hamilton, was elected to the Board Appointments Panel, replacing John Tylden who stepped down after several years in the role.

Otagos Joan Merrilees, a coach and administrator from Otago was elected Vice President at the meeting.

Two new Board members were also elected. Jo OSullivan and Paul Spinks will replace Annette Purvis who steps down after 14 years on the board (11 as chair) and Dean McKenzie.

Cameron Taylor (the current Chair) was earlier appointed to the Board for another term.

The meeting also announced two prestigious Merit Awards for Timaru athletics stalwart Ian Baird and posthumously to Olympic medallist Dick Quax.

A new award for coaches was announced at the meeting, The Arthur Eustace Award for Coaching in recognition of one of Athletics New Zealands leading administrators who passed away earlier this year. The award will become an ongoing legacy which values and recognises coaches who demonstrate the values Eustace held on coaching athletics and those behaviours that also support Athletic New Zealands core beliefs around coaching.


Former New Zealand decathlon champion Graeme Lawless of Wanganui died on 4 August 2018 aged 87.

Lawless was the national decathlon champion for four years from 1952, the national discus throw champion in 1954 and four times New Zealand 220 yards hurdles champion 1953, 55, 59, 60. Lawless set a New Zealand decathlon record in 1953 of 5179 points, which was broken by Roy Williams with 5208 points in 1955.

He was a member of the Leith Club in Dunedin and represented Otago. In 1957 and 1958 he represented Waikato and was a member of the 4 x 440 yards relay team that won the national title. Lawless later went on to masters athletics winning the shot, discus and weight pentathlon in the 60-64 and 65-69 age groups during the 1990s. He trained with Roy Williams when he was at the Leith Club and Williams said that Lawless had been an inspiration and had a great influence on his athletic career.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Athletics New Zealand