17-year-old national U20 5000m champion Kirstie Rae produced an outstanding display to finish 17th in the women’s U20 race at last month’s World Cross Country Championships in Denmark. The Wellington Harrier touches upon her toughest rivals, lucky socks and her fear of seagulls in our regular Five Minutes With segment.
Why would you encourage anyone to try athletics?
Athletics is an amazing way to meet new people, test yourself over different events and travel to places across New Zealand and the world. I love how there is so much versatility in athletics; just because you don’t excel at throwing, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be good at running or jumping.
Who was your first coach and how did they influence your career?
Geoff Henry and Julie Richards from Wellington Harriers were my coaches from around the age of 11 to 13. They introduced me to the competitive side of running and provided me with the perfect stepping stone into secondary school running. Although I only did two training sessions per week at that age, Geoff and Julie always made sure that the sessions were exciting and fun. I always remember those trainings being the highlight of my week!
What are your athletics weaknesses?
Anything that involves fast twitch muscle fibres, as I am definitely lacking in them!
What is the funniest thing you’ve seen on an athletics track?
At the NZ Secondary School track and field champs last year, a seagull flew over the finish line and triggered the electronic timer. It was the unofficial winner of the senior girls 3000m race!
What is your favourite athletics session?
I enjoy all training sessions and I don’t have a standout ‘favourite’. However, the toughest track session that I do would have to be 3x1km with 200m jog recovery, followed by some 200’s. After finishing the 1km reps, I am knackered. The 200m reps are always an absolute grind but I know that after finishing this session, racing seems easy!
What is the greatest thing you’ve witnessed in an athletics stadium?
My best friend and training partner, Tessa Hunt, winning double gold in the 800m and 1500m at the NZSS Track and Field champs in 2017.
Who has been your toughest rival?
Hannah O’Connor and Aimee Ferguson. They present fierce competition and I always have to bring my A-game when racing them both, whether it is on the track or in cross country.
If you could star in another sport which sport would it be?
Skiing- I’ve only tried skiing once but it was very fun and intrepid!
When travelling to a meeting what is the most important item in your suitcase?
My spikes, a Clif bar and my lucky socks.
What is your greatest regret?
Eating a sausage before the Wellington Bays relay event in 2015. Let’s just say that the end result was not pretty...
Who is the person you admire most?
Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run a marathon as an official entrant. In 1967, the maximum distance that women were allowed to run was a mile and a half. Despite the race director trying to rip Kathrine’s bib number off and drag her off the course, she still finished. Kathrine’s perseverance and fearlessness inspires me.
What are you most scared of?
Seagulls dive-bombing me on solo training runs. I’ve been dive-bombed by them a few times in Ohope and Whangamata. It was scary but they definitely made me run faster! There seems to be a bit of a seagull theme going on here...
What is your favourite movie and why?
Eddie the Eagle. This movie always makes me laugh and it contains a good message; Eddie proves that you can achieve anything with the right attitude.
When was the last time you looked at your athletics medals?
I hang them up in my bedroom, so I see them every day.