News & Updates

29 March 2022 • General

Kiwis play their part in Global Solidarity Run

Mel Aitken is in action for the New Zealand team at the 2022 IAU Virtual Global Solidarity Run.

A 13-strong team of New Zealand ultrarunners successfully participated in the third edition of the IAU Virtual Global Solidarity Run on the weekend of March 19-20 racking up a combined total of 770km.

The annual event, which sees endurance athletes from around the planet come together to run for six hours on a terrain of their choosing, has proved a big hit.

Organised as a direct response to the difficult times the ultrarunning community are experiencing because of the pandemic, the New Zealand contingent fully embraced the event.

Competing on a range of terrains on the North Island and South Island with one Kiwi representative, Stuart Hughes, running in Victoria, Australia – the team all performed with pride in an event which is not a formal competition but more a celebration of the spirit of ultrarunning.

Wayne Botha, completed the six-hour challenge by running at AUT Millennium track on Auckland’s North Shore, said: “The team did amazingly well. Two athletes ran on the Northburn 50km course (which included 2300m of vertical ascent) on the South Island which is probably one of the toughest trail running tests in New Zealand.

“In many ways the distance wasn’t really important, it was just about the two runners putting in a massive effort.”

Wayne, who ran with Jamie Stevenson at AUT Millennium, said he was pleased to run two kilometres further than the previous edition of the Virtual Global Solidarity Run but it was sharing and embracing that collective team element which was key.

“We spend many hours training on our own, so it certainly helps lift the spirits to have another running (Jamie Stevenson) at the same venue. I also managed to convince a neighbour to support me for five of the six hours and to have another “team member” adds to the camaraderie of the experience.”

The top performing New Zealander was the experienced Mel Aitken who clocked up 74.77km running on a two-kilometre figure of eight loop at Ngati Toa Domain in Porirua.

Mel, who tackled the loop with another team member Paul Hewitson, was delighted with her efforts which acted as a huge confidence boost after being sidelined for six months last year following a lengthy knee injury.

“To run 74.77km is the best I’ve done in three years (at the Global Solidarity Run), which is awesome,” she adds. “After being injured last year, it was so nice to come back and feel so strong. But the most important thing was the whole team really enjoyed themselves and that feeling of doing something together.

Immensely proud to compete for New Zealand, Mel simply revelled in the opportunity to compete in a truly global event.

“We had a New Zealand team competing with teams who were doing just what we were doing from all across the world,” she adds. “There are no winners and losers from the day, and just to feel part of one big global family is really cool.”

New Zealand Women

Mel Aitken – 74.77km

Georgina Cox – 62.36km

Maggie Davies – 35.65km

Kirsty Hamlin – 58.57km

Sue Hunter – 50.41km

Fiona Hayvice – 43.89km

Jamie Stevenson – 60.21km

New Zealand Men

Wayne Botha – 66.97km

Sam Harvey – 58km

Paul Hewitson – 73.70km

Stuart Hughes – 66.33km

James Inwood – 63.08km

Damien Wood – 56.25km