Just one week short of her 55th birthday, Sally Gibbs produced a masterly display to win the senior women's title at the Tauranga Open Cross Country on Saturday in slow underfoot conditions at Waipuna Park.
The Tauranga Ramblers runner found the early hurdles tricky as 17-year-old Aimee Ferguson (Hamilton City Hawks) made an early break on the field to lead all but the last 800m of the 4060m race.
Gibbs progressively made her way through the field from sixth, pushing off the top of the hill 950m from the finish to chase down to lead into the last hurdle. She cleared that safely to maintain her narrow lead to the finish line.
Gibbs won in 15 minutes 26 seconds, followed four seconds later by Ferguson, one of the rising stars of Hamilton City Hawks. Sarah Gardner (Tauranga Ramblers) finished strongly for third in 15m 43s.
Regan Bones (Tauranga Ramblers) improved on last year's second placing to take out the senior men/masters men 35-64 event over 8060m in 29m 8s from Logan Rodger (Hamilton City Hawks) with masters runner Michael Pugh (Tauranga Ramblers) running an even-paced race to finish third.
Ben Bidois (Hamilton City Hawks) won the men's U20/U18 6060m race ahead of teammate Harrison Fountain, while Gavin Smith (Tauranga Ramblers) headed home Trevor Ogilvie by several minutes over the same distance.
Daniel Sinclair from Cambridge raced away with the boys' 14 age-group over 2950m from Tauranga Ramblers pair Sam Proctor and Jackson Jones, while Lulu Johnston (Tauranga Ramblers) won the girls' 14 age-group over 2950m from Tiarna Allan, with Katie Tapsell third.
Elliott Pugh (Bethlehem College), Adisen Mahy (Mount Intermediate) and Kadin Nogaj (Tauranga Intermediate) were the top placings in the boys' 12 age-group over 2060m with Renee Carey (Tauranga Intermediate), Sylvia Thompson (Bethlehem College) and Alanah Eru (Mount Intermediate) showing good form as they build to AIMS Games.
Eleanor Pugh (Selwyn Ridge Primary) gave her school the perfect start to defend the schools points competition with a perfect six points with Ruby Jones from Greenpark School second in the girls' 10 age-group over 950m, with Alice Boyne third.
In the boys' 10 age-group race over 950m, Ryan Somerville (Awakeri School) started the day with a win as Awakeri set out to challenge local favourites Selwyn Ridge. Nate Handley (Selwyn Ridge) was second, with Josh Smith third.
In the final tally Selwyn Ridge were first on six points, Awakeri School second with 15 and Greenpark third with 22 points.