An action-packed day of running ended in stunning fashion as Hayden Wilde and Eva Goodisson romped home to claim the senior men's and women's titles respectively at the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge in Dunedin.
Bay of Plenty's Wilde claimed a commanding victory against a highly competitive field at a sun-drenched Chisholm Links on Saturday.
The international triathlete and national senior 5000m champion won by 1m 9s from training partner and fellow Bay of Plenty athlete Sam Tanner.
In a race dripping with quality, 2018 national cross country champion Oli Chignell made use of home advantage to secure third spot.
Racing to the front from the gun, Wilde had already opened a clear gap on the field by the conclusion of the first of five 2km laps.
Astonishingly, despite the quality of the opposition, Wilde held a lead of more than a minute at 6km – from which point victory was a mere formality for the man from Whakatāne.
Twenty-year-old University of Washington student Tanner unleashed a late kick to take the silver medal, with Chignell 8s further back in third.
"My goal was to go out at a three-minute (per kilometre) pace, I knew the guys would be strong," said Wilde, who has focused his competitive efforts on running over the past six months because Covid-19 has disrupted the global triathlon calendar.
"I just had to keep as consistent as possible. I didn't expect to have a more-than-a-minute lead after lap three, so it was nice going into the 'tempo lap' with such a cushion. That then allowed me to just smash the final lap and secure my position."
My goal was to go out at a three-minute (per kilometre) pace, I knew the guys would be strong.
Meanwhile, a courageous front-running display from Goodisson earned the Hawke's Bay athlete a richly-deserved victory ahead of home hope Rebekah Greene and Kara Macdermid from Manawatu.
Twenty-one-year-old Goodisson, who returned to New Zealand in March from the University of California due to the pandemic, led from the early stages with Greene and Macdermid, the 2019 national cross country bronze and silver medallists respectively, content to sit in her slipstream.
Macdermid dropped off the pace on lap three and Goodisson's relentless speed was also too much for Greene, as a winning gap was opened up in the final few kilometres.
"It was a tough race," Goodisson said.
"I'm used to racing over 6km in the US, so 10km was a long way. I did not have any real expectations coming in, I just wanted to run and wait to see what would happen. The wind is not very good for tall people like myself but I just wanted to stick with Rebekah and I fed off her. I was just lucky, I had that little bit more in the final few kilometres."
Cameron Clark led home a Canterbury one-two in the men's Under-20 8km race, ahead of Max Yanzick. Wellington's Liam Lamb, national Under-20 3000m champion, rounded out the top three.
Pre-event favourite Charli Miller (Waikato/Bay of Plenty) lived up to expectations to take a decisive victory in the women's Under-20 race, ahead of Otago's Maya Irving and Wellington's Charlotte Floodsmith-Ryan.
Rotorua's Hannah Gapes was a clear winner in of the women's Under-18 event, finishing almost half-a-minute clear of Penelope Salmon (Auckland). Hannah Prosser (Otago) completed the podium placings in third.
For full results from the 2020 Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge go to: athletics.org.nz/athletics-nz-cross-country-challenge-results/