News & Updates

18 June 2021 • Cross Country

Five reasons to enter the New Zealand Cross Country Championships

Oli Chignell (#354) placed 3rd at last year’s Cross Country Challenge over the same course (Photo: Adam Binns)

The 2021 New Zealand Cross Country Championships at Chisholm Links in Dunedin on August 7 represents the marquee event of the domestic winter season. Dunedinites Oli Chignell and Rebekah Greene – who claimed top three positions at the New Zealand Cross Country Challenge on the same course last year – give us five very persuasive reasons why you should enter this year’s race.

The course

Taking place on a links golf course with good drainage, the race route is a demanding one, providing what Oli Chignell describes as a “proper cross country course.”

“It really tests you, but in a positive way,” says Oli, who finished third in the 10km senior men’s race behind Hayden Wilde and Sam Tanner at the 2020 New Zealand Cross Challenge at Chisholm Links.

“The best word to describe it is unrelenting. The shape is like an exaggerated jellybean with lots of up and down. This makes it a very technical course, but it is honestly one of my favourite three cross country courses I’ve ever raced on.”

Longer-term benefits

Versatile Rebekah Greene has won national medals from 800m to 5000m on the track, on the road and over cross country and the 27-year-old Dunedin raised athlete admits although the course is exceedingly tough it was a case of “no pain, no gain.”

“I found running the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge at Chisholm Links made me so much tougher physically and mentally for the races that followed.

“I went into every track race last season (2020-21) thinking no races I ran could possibly be as hard.”

Last season Rebekah enjoyed an outstanding season, setting PB’s for 1000m, 1500m and 5000m on the track and claiming a national 800m silver medal.

Oli shared the same viewpoint after setting PB’s on the track for the mile (smashing through the four-minute barrier for the first time), 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m during the 2020-21 season.

“Running cross country puts you in a good position for the remainder of the winter season and the following track season, and this was especially true for racing at Chisholm Links,” he adds.

Spectator friendly

The course has great viewing for anyone watching the action unfold, according to Oli.

“It is very spectator friendly and there are a couple of points on the course where you can see the entire race,” he adds. “As many of the visitors will be athletes, this is another attraction.”

National championships

Unlike in 2020 when the race was downgraded from a fully- fledged national championships to the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge because of Covid restrictions in the Auckland region at that time, the 2021 version will be (subject to any changing Covid circumstances) a national cross country championship event.

Rebekah, who finished runner-up in the 10km senior women’s race at the 2020 the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge behind Eva Goodisson, said the status of this year’s event being a national championship is a major attraction.

“It is certainly much more of a drawcard,” she adds. “With the prospect of fighting for medals and a place on the podium, it makes the event much more appealing. It definitely makes it more worthwhile.”

Oli backs up Rebekah’s point of view and adds: “Because of Covid last year it will have made it more difficult for some to fully commit to the event. Last year’s race was top-quality with Hayden Wilde winning ahead of Sam Tanner in the men’s race, but perhaps a bit of sheen was taken off the event with it not being a full national championships.”

Dunedin attractions

Otago’s premier city of Dunedin will offer the benefit of a warm and welcoming weekend for all who visit, according to Oli and Rebekah.

“For those come down for the weekend, there are lots of cool eateries and bars in the Octagon,” adds Oli. “Dunedin has some of the best surf in the country, although because the water is freezing in the winter, bring your wet suit!”

For Rebekah, a two-time World U20 1500m representative, she said: “It is a cool city. We have some of the nicest beaches in the world here in Dunedin and because the course is in close proximity, runners can warm up alongside the beach. St Clair has some really nice cafes and bars, and we have some awesome scenery.”

Click here to enter the 2021 New Zealand Cross Country Championships.