News & Updates

27 August 2020 • Cross Country

Cross country runners set to test their talents

Some of the best runners in the country will be in action in Dunedin on Saturday as the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge takes place at Chisholm Links.

Despite the unavailability of athletes based in the Auckland region due to the alert level restrictions, just shy of 300 athletes have entered, led in the senior men’s race by high-class Waikato Bay of Plenty runner Hayden Wilde. 

In recent months, he and regional team mate Sam Tanner have dominated the domestic endurance scene with Wilde, an international triathlete, clinching an impressive win to land the national 5000m title in Christchurch in March.

In Hamilton last month Tanner, who is currently based back in New Zealand from the US where he is studying at the University of Washington, claimed a national U20 3000m record of 7:57.57, one place ahead of Wilde in 7:59.15, who himself scalped more than 20 seconds from his personal best. 

However, just three days later, Wilde got the better of Tanner, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Monday, to secure victory at the Waikato Bay of Plenty Cross Country Championships.

Wilde, 22, is currently in great shape and is relishing the prospect of taking to the start line in Dunedin.

“For me, I really want to take the win,” he says. “That is why I’ve travelled down here, to have some really good competition.

“I know the course will bring out a lot of off-road skills and I’m really looking forward to challenging the pure runners once again.”

Rounding out the strong contingent of northern raiders from the Waikato Bay of Plenty is 2019 New Zealand road champion Aaron Pulford, who is also expected to feature prominently.

Otago athletes will be looking to mount a strong challenge on home ground led by the experienced 32-year-old Caden Shields, who last year performed with pride at the World Championships in Doha, placing 30th in the marathon in oppressively hot conditions.

The strong Otago challenge is further bolstered by the entry of 2018 New Zealand Cross Country, Road and 5000m champion Oli Chignell.

Another potential Otago wildcard could be the 21-year-old Janus Staufenberg, who romped to an impressive win at the Otago Cross Country Championships at Chisholm Links earlier this month.

Canterbury also pose a strong set of contenders led by the consistent Daniel Balchin, who claimed silver at the 2019 New Zealand Cross Country Championships.

Another with podium potential is 2018 New Zealand U20 10,000m champion Christopher Dryden, who earlier this month claimed an eye-catching victory at the Canterbury Cross Country Championships.

Fellow Cantabrian Oska Baynes, the 2019 New Zealand half marathon and marathon champion, should also not be discounted.

Elsewhere, Daniel Jones of Wellington, the fourth-place finisher at the 2019 New Zealand Cross Country Championships, and Cambridge-based triathlete Tayler Reid could also feature.

Otago will also be hoping for more home success in the senior women’s 10km race led by the 2019 New Zealand Cross Country bronze medallist Rebekah Greene.

The 26-year-old swept to the national 5000m crown in Christchurch and will have been boosted by winning the Otago Cross Country title on the same Chisholm Links course she will experience on Saturday.

“It’s cool to have the event here in my home town of Dunedin,” explains Rebecca. “To have raced the course at the Otago champs was a big advantage while it is helpful to sleep in my own bed the night before the race.

“It is a good, challenging course which is very undulating. My aim is to be up with the main contenders, to run smart and place as high as I can.”

Expect her main opposition to come from Manawatu’s 2019 national cross country silver medallist Kara Macdermid. The 22-year-old boasts a strong cross country pedigree and earlier this year showed her versatility to take 1500m silver at the New Zealand Track & Field Championships.

Canterbury also pose a strong challenge led by 2019 New Zealand half-marathon and mountain running champion Sabrina Grogan and former national steeplechase silver medallist Natalie Dryden. The Hawkes Bay/Gisborne cross country champion Eva Goodisson is also entered.

Among the leading entrants in the under 20 men’s 8km are Cameron Clark, Daniel Roswell, Zach Bellamy, Ben Bidois, Liam Chesney and Max Yanzick.

Charli Miller is meanwhile among the favourites in the under 20 women’s 6km. The national junior 5000m champion recorded an impressive 37:30 in last week’s Waikato Bay of Plenty 10km road championships.

In the master men 35-49, the likes of Kelvin Meade, David Fitch, Dean Chiplin, Chris Mardon, Geoff Ferry, Blair Martin, Ben Wreford, Glen Chisholm and Iain Macdonald should battle it out over the 8km for their respective age-group placings. Robbie Johnston will look to get the better of Peter Stevens, Robert Howell, Richard Bennett, Grant McLean and Michael Wray in the master men’s 50-64 race.

Sally Gibbs, Shireen Crumpton, Jo Ramsay, Amanda Waldrom, Julie Edmunds, Sue Cuthbert and Kristy Eyles are all down to race the master women’s 6km.

Will Anthony, second in last year’s national championships in the under 18 6km, returns along with Matthew Bowden, who finished second in the under 16 last year. They will face Thomas Clarke, Ethan Smolej, George Lambert and Charlie Hazlett around the Links.

Kennedy Taylor from Otago, and Canterbury’s Georgia-Rose Dawson and Neve Moulai, together with Hannah Gapes should be among the top placings in the women’s under 18 5km.

Pai Wynyard is expected to show his fine form this season in the under 16 4km while the first three in the girls under 16 last year – Bella Earl, Eliza Squire and Maia Wilkinson – and Edie Kozyniak, second to Earl in 2018, along with Bridie Restieaux, under 13 winner in 2018, have entered the under 16 4km.

Finn Woodhouse, unbeaten this season, is among the favourites in the under 14 boys 3km with local Jude Deaker. Amber de Wit and Eva Green, second in the under 12 last year, are expected to battle out the under 14 girls 3km.

The first New Zealand Cross Country Championship was in 1903 in Christchurch. This year now joins 1904-1908, 1914-19 and 1940-44 as the only occasions in which an event with national championship status was not held.

The well-being of all participants and spectators is a key priority in regards to this event and a comprehensive health and safety plan has therefore been put together.

The plan includes many measures that will be taken to ensure the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge can be hosted safely, including restricting the fields for each race and carefully managing the number of spectators.

Contact tracing, good hygiene practices and physical distancing measures will also be actioned.

Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge
Saturday 29 August, from 10am 
Chisholm Links, Dunedin

As this event is being run under Alert Level 2 guidelines, please read this important Information for Attendees

For the race start lists and further information please view the Event Programme

To view the race timetable please click here

The Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge will be live streamed on the Sky Sport Next YouTube channel

Please note: In keeping with best practice around the broadcasting of younger athletes, only grade U16 events and above will be live streamed.

The specific links for the live streaming are as follows:

10.30am: Masters Men 65+, Women U20, Masters Women please click here 

11.30am: Men U18, Women U18 please click here

12pm: Men U20, Masters Men 35-49, Masters Men 50-64 please click here

1.10pm: Girls U16, Boys U16 please click here

2.05pm: Senior Men, Senior Women please click here