News & Updates

3 June 2022 • Cross Country

Inaugural national cross country relays to be a club event

The inaugural mixed gender cross country relay will be trialled as part of the 2022 New Zealand Cross Country Championships (Photo: Michael Dawson)

To encourage wider participation at Athletic NZ’s pinnacle off road event, the inaugural mixed gender cross country relay, to be trialled as part of the 2022 New Zealand Cross Country Championships at Spa Thermal Park in Taupo (30-31 July), will be a club-based event.

The introduction of the relay into the programme was announced by Athletics NZ last month but the decision for the relays – which take place on 31 July one day after the individual and team titles are contested – to be a club-only event will build on the rich tradition of the 109-year-old event and provide opportunities to further develop cross country regionally and nationally.

New Zealand already boasts a vibrant cross country relay scene with events such as the Lovelock Relay (Otago), Hagley Relay (Canterbury), Shaw Baton (Wellington) and Southland Centennial (Auckland) playing a pivotal role in fostering participation and excitement in the sport.

The introduction of the 4x2km mixed gender relay (two men, two women) will further augment that interest on the national stage.

Athletics NZ Competitions Manager Jason Cameron said: “For many years cross country relays have formed an important part of the winter fabric for clubs up and down the country. We are confident that by introducing this into a national event it will be well received by the athletics community, and it will develop into a must-do event seeking to emulate the success of our annual road relays.

“I would really encourage runners to get together with club mates and enter a team to compete in this exciting new format. I can’t wait to see some of those enduring club rivalries in action at Spa Thermal Park”.

The mixed gender relays will take place on a 1km loop at Spa Thermal Park and the event will be offered to U16, U18, U20, senior and masters (35-49, 50-64 and 65+) age grades.

Relays were first introduced into the programme at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships in 2016, meanwhile on the global stage the first mixed gender relays took place as part of the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala in 2017.

Online entries for the 2022 New Zealand Cross Country Championship and inaugural NZ Cross Country Relays are now open, see more here.