News & Updates

29 September 2023 • Road

New Zealand athletes take to the road in Latvia

The inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships takes place in Riga, Latvia Sunday-Monday 1-2 October.

A seven-strong New Zealand team are set to make history on Sunday-Monday 1-2 October by competing at the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia.

The first ever edition of the championships serves up global titles over the half-marathon, 5km and mile distances on the road and will feature 347 athletes from 57 teams.

With mass races taking place alongside the elite races it will help generate a unique global festival of road running.

Eric Speakman (Napier Harriers), who represented New Zealand earlier this year in the mixed relay at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, will be the sole Kiwi representative in action in the men’s 5km race at 10.15pm on Sunday (1 October).

The experienced 33-year-old is a former New Zealand 1500m champion and he has won a slew of national medals on the track and road. His 5000m track PB set in 2021 stands at 13:22.08.

The remaining six selected New Zealand athletes will take on the half marathon distance with four men and two women in action.

The women’s race – which features defending champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya who struck gold at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships – takes place from 11.30pm on Sunday (1 October) and will feature Katherine Camp and Debbie Donald.

Camp is a former New Zealand 800m and 1500m champion, who more recently has focused on the longer distances. The 31-year-old from Te Awamutu AC competed for New Zealand at the 2023 World Cross Country Championships earlier this year and recorded a half marathon PB of 1:16:03 in Gold Coast in July.

“I am very excited to be part of the New Zealand team for the World Road Running Championships and I can’t wait to compete against the best in the world in the half marathon,” said Camp.

“The race organisers have done an amazing job at promoting this event and promoting the beautiful city of Riga, so I am very much looking forward to spending some time in Latvia.

“In terms of the race, I am hoping to beat my PB and gain more experience over the distance.”

For mum-of-three Donald, representing her country just five years after taking up the sport is a remarkable story.

The former trail runner of Athletics & Cycling Masterton only switched to road running after relocating with her family to Perth two years ago and has made meteoric progress.

Donald, 36, set a PB of 2:44:21 when winning the New Zealand marathon title in Christchurch in April and boasts a half marathon best of 1:16:57 set in Busselton earlier this year.

Cameron Avery will spearhead a four-strong New Zealand team in the men’s half marathon from 12.15am on Monday (2 October) aiming to build further on an outstanding year.

The 26-year-old from Christchurch Avon AC was the top New Zealand finisher in 47th in the senior men’s race at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst in February and in July snared the national cross country crown in Taupo.

He also revealed his talent over the half marathon distance when setting a breakthrough PB of 1:02:50 to place third in Gold Coast in July.

Avery said: “I’ve taken so much confidence from the last 12 months of racing, and the training behind those results. I feel I’ve taken a mental step, and now feel I belong amongst the pointy end of international competition.”

He now hopes to arrive on the start line in the best possible shape and he has set some big goals: “I’m confident I’ve got the physical and mental tools to compete for a top 30 spot. Fast times are largely irrelevant, though in this kind of field, we’ll likely be seeing fireworks for those who commit.”

Michael Voss, Oska Inkster-Baynes and Chris Dryden are all set to make their New Zealand senior debuts in the men’s half marathon in Riga, which takes place on a flat, compact course.

Voss of Lake City AC is the reigning New Zealand Half Marathon champion, who also claimed bronze at the New Zealand Cross Country Championships in Taupo in July.

The 26-year-old boasts a half marathon PB of 1:04:07 set in Gold Coast last year.

Inkster-Baynes, a four-time New Zealand half marathon champion, is a vastly experienced performer on the domestic scene. A 2:16 marathoner at his best the 32-year-old University of Canterbury athlete set a half-marathon PB of 1:04:34 for eighth in Gold Coast in July.

Dryden a club-mate of Inkster-Baynes also posted his half marathon PB in Gold Coast (1:04:36) this year.

The 24-year-old, who claimed a senior men’s bronze medal at the 2021 New Zealand Cross Country Championships, represented his country in the 10,000m at the 2018 Word U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Athletics NZ Out of Stadia Co-ordinator John Bowden said: “We are delighted to be sending a team of seven athletes to the very first World Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia. The event will be a great opportunity for our athletes to taste top-level competition and earn some wonderful experiences which will stand them in good stead for the future. I look forward to seeing how they all perform up against the very best in the world.”

***Watch live coverage of the 2023 World Road Running Championships on Sky Sport Select from 9.20pm on Sunday 1 October.

***For timetable and results go here