News & Updates

29 September 2022 • Road

Defending champions seek to prosper at national road relays

University of Canterbury and North Harbour Bays will seek to mount a strong defence of their respective senior men’s and senior women’s titles at the 2022 NZ Road Relay Championships at Bottle Lake Forest Park, Christchurch on Saturday (Photo: Michael Dawson)

University of Canterbury and North Harbour Bays will both look to mount a strong defence of their respective senior men’s and senior women’s New Zealand road relay titles at the revised national relay championship course in Christchurch on Saturday.

Organisers swiftly found a new venue at Bottle Lake Forest Park after Waka Kotahi deemed the traditional route from Takahe to Akaroa did not meet traffic management requirements with the new event around Landfill Avenue requiring all eight team members to run the same 8km circuit.

University were impressive winners at the last edition of the New Zealand Road Relay Championships held in Feilding in 2020 and once again boast a formidable unit as Saxon Morgan, Chris Dryden, Tom Moulai, Oska Baynes and Daniel Balchin, all members of the 2020 winning team, are down to race again along with Jack Staples, Harry Rattray and Cameron Swales.

The challenge to University will come from Pakuranga, The Whippets, and Wellington Scottish.

Pakuranga have yet to win a senior title over the history of the championships extending back to 1977 but the Auckland-based club have assembled a solid combination of Jack Paine, Ronan Lee, Rodwyn Isaacs, Paul Crowhurst, Dylan McCullough, Luke Cameron, Andre McKay and a new acquisition, in former national 10,000m track, 10km road, half marathon and marathon champion, Aaron Pulford.

Wellington Scottish won the title for five years in a row from 2015 and boast a total of ten victories starting at Cambridge in 1999. Their line-up is Seamus Kane, Harry McLean, Ben Bielski, Bert Prendergast, Daniel Jones, Malcolm Hodge, Alistair Richardson and Ben Twyman.

The Whippets, established last year, will be keen to get their name on the honours board of winners. Their impressive entry contains Jacob Priddey, Connor Melton, Russell Green, Jared Monk, Will Little, Mick Keating, Josh Baan and David Lee.

North Harbour Bays have collected the senior women’s title on ten occasions and will be all out to repeat their win in Feilding two years ago. Laura Nagel, who went unbeaten last track season winning four national middle distance titles, steps out for Bays. She last raced on the Gold Coast setting a personal best half marathon of 1:15:50. Nagel will be backed by Mackenzie Morgan second in the national U20 road champs, Olivia Whitney, Brigid Dennehy, Niamh de Hóra, Maddie Dillon, Charlotte Floodsmith-Ryan and Jessie Speedy.

University of Canterbury, who won the inaugural senior women’s title in 1977 and since then a further eight, go to the start line with Katherine Camp, Angie Petty, Sarah McSweeney, Eva Pringle, Natalie Dryden, Rosa Twyford, Sarah McClure and Miriam Clark.

Wellington Harrier Athletic Club have entered Esther George, Sarah Drought, Natalie Hardaker, Kate Young, Caitlin Basset, Alaina Brent, Carline Thomas and Andrea Peat and The Whippets will be running Karen Donaldson-Baron, Amelia Lythe, Skye Dick, Sophie Williamson, Tillie Hollyer, Julia Grant, Fiona Love and Annabelle Bramwell.

One of the strongest entries is in the junior men with defending champions Pakuranga, Feilding Moa 2019 winners, Papanui TocH twice winners, Auckland City Athletic three times champions, two-time winners Christchurch Avon, WHAC five times winners, the 1988 winners Hill City-University and Trentham all vying for a place on the podium.

Pakuranga will take a lot to beat with their crack team of Jamie Mora, Angus Monro, Christian de Vaal, Ronan Codyre, Toby Tasker and Jahko Tohia. The juniors, master women 50 plus and master men 60 and 70 plus will cover 36km made up of 2 x 5km, 2 x 8km and 2 x 5km.

Olympic Harriers Wellington will be defending the junior women’s title with a team of Lucy Hannah, Ava Sutherland, Amy McHardy, Lucy Jurke, Kate McHardy and Maia Holden.

However, Auckland City Athletics have a formidable combination which includes the national U18 road champion Sophie Robb and the U16 champion Scarlett Robb along with Lisa Hellyer, Samantha Korck, Charlotte Greenwood and Scarlett Gwin. WHAC will be running Maria Revelant, Poppy Healy, Saskia Cosgrove-Drayton, Lola Campbell, Lulu Davies and Phoebe Squire.

Wellington Scottish, who have notched up 12 wins in the master women, will again be hard to beat with a top team of Amanda Broughton, Mel Aitken, Sophie Dickson, Emma Bassett, Lindsay Barwick, Emily Solsberg, Ayesha Shafi and Mel Brandon.

Don Greig Racing Stables come into the reckoning with Fiona Crombie, Kirsten Hall, Annie Radecki, Rosie Hay, Nicola Handley, Fiona Dowling, Lisa Brignull and Serena Kelly. Seven times winners Hamilton City Hawks have Kovo MacDonald, Dawn Tuffery, Sandra Jensen, Emily Fyfe, Lisa Joblin, Sue Hunter, Kirsten Milne and Kay Stockman.

Scottish will be aiming for three years in a row in the master women 50 plus, with 21-time New Zealand champion Melissa Moon, Maria Williams, Heather Walker, Tricia Sloan, Betty Harp and Bev Hodge.

In the master men Scottish will be going for five years in a row and their seventh title running with their team of James Richardson, Rowan Hooper, Alasdair Saunders, Andy Ford, Paul Barwick, Stephen Day, Simon Keller and Mark Moore.

Takapuna, winners in 1998, come in with an in-form team of Mark Boyce, Mike Wanden, Greg Darbyshire, Tim Buckley, Daniel Shaw, Gene Rand, Marcus Robertson and Mark Paterson. Owairaka, who won back in 1982, will be led by Simon Mace, Nick Moore, Ben Winder, Keith Burrows, Julian Ng, Mitch Cantlon, Richard Harris, James Clendon and Ben Winder.

Scottish should make it four years in a row in the master men 50 plus with Brendon Thompson, Andrew Kerr, Todd Stevens, Nicholas Bagnall, Grant McLean, David Kettles, James Turner and Peter Stevens.

Athletics Nelson seven times winners of the 60 plus have entered along with a team in the 70 plus. Wellington Scottish and WHAC, winners of the 60 plus in 2016. will both have team in the 60 and 70 plus relays. University of Auckland 2019 winners are entered for the 60 plus relay.

The eight lap relays start at 8.30am and the six lap relays at 8.45am.

By Murray McKinnon