News & Updates

31 March 2024 • High Performance

Lund and Grgec lead New Zealand charge in World Cross

Catherine Lund was the highest placed New Zealander at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade Serbia on Saturday.

Lund, the national under 20 champion, finished 35th in the under 20 women’s 6km in 21:53. Combined with Zara Geddes, Boh Ritchie, Ava Sutherland and Poppy Martin New Zealand were 11th in the teams.

Marta Alemayo of Ethiopia won the junior women’s title in 19:28.

At last year’s world championships in Bathurst Australia Lund was 27th in the under 20 women.

Lund was happy with her placing.

“I started conservatively and tried to work my way through. I ran a stronger second half.

“I’m happy as the field is a lot deeper than when I finished in 27th last year”, she said.

Siena Mackley, a member of the under 20 team, tested positive for Covid in the days before the race and was not permitted to start.

Georgie Grgec was a creditable 41st in the senior women’s 10km. Raced around Friendship Park, one of the largest in Belgrade overlooking the Sava and Danube Rivers, Grgec clocked 34:43. Annika Pfitzinger was the next Kiwi in 55th in 35:50. New Zealand were ninth in the teams.

Grgec was delighted with her performance and that of the team.

“I went in trying to enjoy the experience. With the heat and tactics I started conservatively but felt surprisingly good for the first 8km and then the wheels started to fall off in the last lap but I’m happy with my first World Cross Country.

“It’s great to have a full women’s team and crack the top 10 in a global championship”.

Beatrice Chebet of Kenya defended the senior women’s title in 31:05, the first senior women to win back to back titles since Tirunesh Dibaba in 2006.

Matt Hill, the highest placed under 20 runner last year in Bathurst in 38th, and again was the lead New Zealander in 48th. He was one place ahead of Elliott Pugh, identical to last year where Pugh was 39th.

New Zealand were 12th in the teams.

Hill from Tauranga said that his aim was to improve on last year.

“I wanted to do better than last year but in Europe it was always going to be more competitive. If you’d told me a couple of years ago, I’d be first Kiwi and disappointed, I’d be like what the heck.

“I’m happy but would’ve liked to have raced faster and better but that’s ok”.

Samuel Kibathi of Kenya won the under 20 title in 22:40.

With temperatures rising to 29 degrees by the time of the start of the senior men’s 10km, William Little the sole New Zealander raced well to finish 64th in 30:44, the same time as Thomas Fafard of Canada who was 63rd.

Little was buoyed with the experience.

“I’m definitely proud of my first time racing in the New Zealand singlet. I raced to my expectations – going out fast and held on well maintaining my position in the mid 60’s for the entire race and had some good guys around me”.

Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda retained the senior title in 28:09.


Senior men 10km: William Little 30:44 (64).

Senior women 10km: Georgie Grgec 34:43 (41), Annika Pfitzinger 35:50 (55), Anneke Arlidge 38:13 (68), Katherine Camp 38:45 (70), Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell 40:13 (71). Teams NZ (9).

Under 20 men 8km: Matt Hill 25:30 (48), Elliott Pugh 25:36 (49), Daniel Prescott 26:07 (66), George Wyllie 26:25 (71), Lorcan Rabbitte 26:28 (72), Azrael Cabusao 27:08 (81). Teams NZ (12).

Under 20 women 6km: Catherine Lund 21:53 (35), Zara Geddes 22:21 (44), Boh Ritchie 23:18 (62), Ava Sutherland 24:14 (73), Poppy Martin 24:30 (76). Teams NZ (11).