News & Updates

10 May 2019 • General

In a Good place

New Zealand Mountain Running champion Andy Good may have been a relatively late starter to the sport of athletics but as Steve Landells discovered the Cantabrian is keen to make up for lost time.

They are a multitude of routes into discovering success in the sport of athletics, and as recently-minted New Zealand Mountain Running champion Andy Good proves it is never too late to start.

After only first engaging with the sport seven years ago, the 32-year-old Cantabrian is currently earning a growing reputation on the New Zealand endurance scene.

And as his comprehensive victory to secure the New Zealand mountain running title in Wellington last month proved, Andy could well have discovered his best path to future international success.

Born and raised in Christchurch, Andy dabbled with many sports in his youth including cricket, rugby, soccer and basketball. However, his only running experiences were restricted to the annual school cross country, where he regularly finished “fourth or fifth”.

Later relocating to Palmerston North as a carpenter with the NZ Army, the job brought some interesting travel opportunities but his running journey only began in 2012 after a couple of friends encouraged him to run the Manawatu Striders Half Marathon in his adopted home city.

On the back of a loose training regime of “three or four” runs per week” Andy posted a handy 1:19 clocking for fourth and discovered a latent talent for running. Keen to explore his potential he quickly became more seriously engaged with the sport.

“I realised I had a bit of natural talent and I quickly got swept up into ultra-distance running,” explains Andy. “I was attracted to the adventure side of the sport. I loved the challenge of running for a whole day and carrying my equipment with me.”

He enjoyed some success and in 2016 finished second in the 62km Wuu-2K ultra in Wellington and won the 50km Taupo Ultra. In February last year he tackled the Tarawera 100km – a world-class ultra-distance running event – where he performed with distinction to place second Kiwi in eighth.

“I was really proud of my performance but I think that was the point I realised I wanted to change the direction of my running,” he recalls.

“Running 100km is a huge undertaking, but I found that in the two-week lead-up to the event I’d have to ease off the training and then because my body was so hammered I’d spend six weeks post-event running rarely. When I thought about it; this meant for two months out of every year I’d not be running at all. Well, I love running, so that is when I thought about running shorter distances as this would allow we to run more regularly.”

Having returned back to live in Christchurch with his wife, Julia, and two young daughters, Emily and Elise, in early 2018 the pieces to his running puzzle quickly started to fall into place.

He started training with Oska Inkster-Baynes, the two-time NZ Half Marathon champion – who lives close by – and shortly after Matt Ingram – coach to Oska – stepped in to also coach Andy.

Running nine or ten times per week at an average of around 130km per week under Matt’s programme has garnered great rewards and Andy feels blessed to have so much running knowledge and experience to draw upon.

“Matt’s a great sounding board and voice of reason,” explains Andy.

“Sometimes I’m a little too keen to race a little too often but Matt is good at being more selective with my race plan. He’s also a very collaborative coach. We talk regularly about my training plan; he comes up with some cool ideas and there is a lot of back and forth between the two of us.”

Thriving under Matt’s regime, Andy made rapid progress and last June he achieved his goal of a sub-1:10 half-marathon with a 1:09:49 performance for ninth in Christchurch.

Two months later, Andy claimed a confidence boosting victory to land the Canterbury Road title over 10km in 31:20 and he went into the National Road Race Championships in Cambridge just two weeks later with high expectations.

Unfortunately, for Andy he had a rare off-day placing 12th in 32:03. However, the following weekend he showed his true ability to romp to victory at the Governors Bay to Lyttleton race in a 10km PB of 30:55.

During the summer, Andy also enjoyed his first taste of track running. In December, he recorded 30:39.40 to win in Christchurch at the Christmas Cracker Twlight meet on a windy night. Meanwhile, he also ran 14:45.00 over 5000m to place 15th at the New Zealand Track & Field Championships.

Encouraged by his performances he intends to pursue more track racing in future but his main targets for 2019 lay in mountain running, the discipline within the sport he believes he is best suited.

“I’ve figured out that my love of running fast and on the hills is the perfect combination for me,” explains Andy. “I know I’m a good climber, so I had feeling it was something I could be good at.”

Putting a training plan in place with his coach, Matt, Andy put in some tough training sessions in the Port Hills and the recipe seemed to work perfectly as he bettered the course record to claim victory in the Luxmore Grunt in December before clinching victory the next month in the Skyline Traverse in Wanaka.

The University of Canterbury AC athlete then approached the New Zealand Mountain Running Championships, which were incorporated into the 11.5km Wainuiomata Classic in Wellington, quietly confident of a strong performance.

“I went in as a dark horse and my goal was to at least podium,” explains Andy. “I was also really motivated to make the World Championship team (for mountain running). I have always wanted to wear the Black Singlet.”

Describing the performance as “one of the hardest runs of my life” he completed the gruelling effort in 48:38 – a sizeable 1:38 clear of silver medallist Dougal Thorburn of Wellington Scottish – to claim his maiden national title at the age of 32.

“I was super proud,” recalls Andy, who recently switched jobs from the NZ Army to take up a new position as a maintenance technician for Downer.

“I’d worked so hard to achieve that goal and the only downside was my family were all back in Christchurch and they couldn’t share in the success on the day.”

Andy will now switch his attention to next month’s Christchurch Marathon – where he is aiming for a sub-67-minute performance over the 21.1km distance. In the coming months, Andy intends to target other road events but the big goal for the year is the World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina in November.

“The course looks very runnable, which is what I want it to be,” explains Andy. “I don’t want it to be too technical because then I feel I wouldn’t be able to use the speed, which I feel I’ve got. It is hard to predict placings but a dream goal would be to crack the top ten or 20.”

Also harbouring future marathon ambitions and with an ability to “hurt myself” in training sessions, there is no doubt Andy will not give it anything less than 100 per cent in pursuit of his running goals, but does he have any regrets he was not introduced to the sport sooner?

“I have no regrets,” he remarks. “The one thing I can say is I’m really enjoying it right now..

“I love running simply because it makes me feel good. I love running the hills and navigating my way through the rugged terrain. It is such a cool feeling.”