News & Updates

7 November 2020 • General

Baxter and Buscomb claim road race honours

Matt Baxter, right, on his way to winning the senior men’s title (Photo: Michael Dawson)

Matt Baxter and Camille Buscomb defied windy and humid conditions to bank the men’s and women’s senior New Zealand Road Race Championships titles respectively at Bruce Pulman Park in Auckland today.

On his 10km road debut, Baxter, the 2019 national 5000m track champion, bossed the field from the outset to stop the clock in 30:22 and defeat his nearest pursuer and defending champion Aaron Pulford by a margin of a little over a minute.

Meanwhile, Buscomb lived up to her billing as pre-race favourite to produce a similarly dominant display in the women’s race, adding a fourth 10km road crown to the hat-trick of titles she snared from 2013-15 in a time of 33:54.

Baxter, who earlier this year set a national indoor 5000m record of 13:27.61, was using the race as a marker for his current form and was gunning for a sub-30-minute time.

However, after racing to the front from the gun and kicking clear of the opposition on the second of five 2km loops, the Taranaki athlete quickly realised the tough conditions would likely preclude such a time.

“I think I got a little too excited after the first lap and, to be honest, it was a little bit of a struggle from there as I just tried to maintain the pace,” explained Baxter, 26.

“The wind was pretty bad, especially on the back part of course and I was getting blasted the whole time. I felt like I started to pull away on lap two and then I kept my foot on the gas through to the third lap. Laps four and five were a bit more about damage control as I was breathing pretty hard. I tried to keep the pace honest but I didn’t want to cook myself in case somebody tried to come back.”

Baxter, who is currently back living in his home town of New Plymouth from his regular base in Flagstaff, Arizona because of the global pandemic, was pleased to secure the national title on his 10km road debut but had mixed emotions regarding his current form.

“It was not the fastest time I’ve ever covered 10km in,” adds Baxter, whose track 10,000m best is 28:10.05. “I was hoping to run a mid-to-low 29 minutes, so to come away with a 30:22 means I don’t completely know where I’m at. But, given the wind and the conditions, the effort was probably closer to the mid-to-low 29 minutes.”

Pulford (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) claimed silver in 31:23 to earn an eye-catching sixth medal in seven years in this event. Former New Zealand senior men’s 1500m champion Eric Speakman (Wellington) claimed bronze a further 16 seconds adrift.

Camille Buscomb backed up her Auckland half-marathon win with another title (Photo: Michael Dawson)

Buscomb was also forced to work hard for her national title in the demanding conditions today in south Auckland.

From the gun, the 2019 World Championship 12th-placer in the women’s 5000m and 10,000m finals, surged to the front and wisely latched on to a group of men, who acted as a convenient wind shield for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty athlete.

Buscomb, 30, who last month ran 32:45 at the Canterbury 10km Road Championships, found the energy-sapping conditions tough but battled on to claim an emphatic win in a time of 33:54 – a little over three minutes clear of silver medallist Rebekah Greene (Otago).

“It is nice to get another title and back up last weekend’s performance,” said Buscomb of her half-marathon personal best of 1:13:45 set in Auckland last Sunday.

“My body was feeling a bit fatigued but I ran with a few of the guys and managed to stick with them until the last part of the race. It was really tough going today and, although I was a few minutes ahead, it was one of the hardest-fought titles I’ve won.”

Greene, who back in August finished second at the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge in Dunedin, again placed runner-up, recording 37:01. The 34-year-old Aucklander Kelly Parlane rounded out the podium in bronze in 38:15.

Liam Lamb added the U20 men’s 8km title to the U20 3000m track title he secured earlier this year to claim a seven-second victory from Auckland’s Sam Waldin, in a time of 26:07.

The women’s U20 title contested over 5km was bagged by U20 3000m bronze medallist Maya Irving of Otago (17:31), who finished 1:05 clear of Auckland’s Amelia Lythe.

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Alana Barber impressed to regain the national 20km race walking title she last snared in 2014 with a dominant display.

The 33-year-old, who was competing just a 10-minute drive from her south Auckland home, completed the distance in a time of 1:40:44 – a performance she was satisfied with given the high level of humidity.

“I did about what I expected, which was to average five-minutes kms, so I did not surprise myself,” added Barber, who was cheered on by mum Shirley Somervell – a former Commonwealth Games 800m representative – around the 1km looped course.

“I was just a tad slower than the pace I did when competing at the Auckland Champs three weeks ago (when she recorded 49:37.54 for the 10km distance) but I managed to maintain it for a further 10km.

“The idea was to get a feel for racing 20km again, get the heart rate up and feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable,” said the Aucklander who last raced over the distance in Adelaide in February.

“It was a good feeling to win the national title again,” she added. “I’m often overseas when the national championship is on, so I miss out. I always enjoy racing on New Zealand soil, especially at a local race.”

Barber’s next planned competition is over the 20km distance at the Potts Classic in January when she will hope to have a crack at the Olympic qualification time of 1:31:00.

Behind Barber in silver was Courtney Ruske of Canterbury in 1:55.01.

Alex Brown, the 19-year-old Otago-based athlete, clinched the men’s race walking crown in a time of 1:58.22 to claim his maiden national senior title. Defending champion Lyndon Hohaia (Auckland) fell foul of the judges and was disqualified.

National 3000m and 10,000m track champion Lucas Martin (Manawatu) produced a noteworthy performance to set national U17, U18, U19 and U20 records on his way to victory in the U18 men’s 5km race walk. The 16-year-old posted a slick time of 23:46 to eclipse the previous record of 25:26 held by Wellington’s Daniel du Toit, who endured a day to forget as he was disqualified from the race.

For the full results from the 2020 New Zealand Road Race Championships please click here

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