News & Updates

6 September 2023 • Out of Stadia

Red hot master Dwight hopes to be king of the road

Dwight Grieve is running faster than ever at the age of 46 and will be one to watch at the New Zealand Road Championships in Palmerston North on Sunday.

Dwight Grieve has a slightly tongue in cheek goal to be “the fastest old man in New Zealand” and after enjoying a stellar past few months, which has included banking a new 10km road PB as well as another Southland cross country title, the 46-year-old could be well in the way to achieving his ambition.

On Sunday he will take his sizzling recent form into the New Zealand Road Championships, where the master will seek a prominent display in Palmerston North as he hunts for glory in the men’s 45-49  age division.

Based in Te Anau under the wily coaching of Shaun Cantwell, versatile Dwight is relishing the prospect of taking on the finest masters’ athletes in the country and said: “I love going up north for national champs because you can’t be the best until you beat the best. My goal for a long time is to be the fastest old man in New Zealand. One of the reasons I love running over the different distances is I don’t mind getting beaten, so long as I’ve given the best performance that I can.”

Based in the small Southland community of Wallacetown, throughout his 20s he was a rugby player and cricketer and it was only aged 30 and with a desire to tick off a bucket list marathon did he first engage in running. On his debut over the 42.2km distance as part of the Motatapu Marathon he ran three hours 40 minutes and was hooked. He joined his local Harrier club, and keen to make his two young children proud he stepped up his training.

Just over a decade ago, Dwight relocated to Te Anau. Competing in a wide range of events and distances on the track, cross country, trails, road, ultra and mountain running, the Kiwi claimed silver at the 2013 New Zealand 24-Hour Championships when he then connected with his current coach, Shaun.

“I said I wanted to run better and faster and that is when he took me on,” he says. “Within that first 12-month period, it really took off. I started to run really well. It was a life changing moment for me.”

Joining Fiordland AC – a club whose logo he has tattooed on his chest – has also played an instrumental role in his athletics journey, and over the past decade he has enjoyed a string of impressive results.  

Winning age grade medals in a broad range of distances and surfaces including on the track over 5000m, on the road (over 10km, half marathon and marathon) cross country, trail and mountain running. He has also twice represented his country – achieving the honour at the 2018 World Mountain Running Championships and in June featured in the short trail race at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Austria.

Running on average between 90-100km a week he is fortunate to live in Te Anau and to have access to so many wonderfully scenic trails on his doorstep. Combining three recovery runs a week with an interval session, strong run, a speed session and a long run appears to be the perfect elixir for Dwight. However, he also insists lengthy hunting sessions for deer and wild pigs lasting up to eight hours also play a key role.

“I treat hunting like long recovery runs,” explains Dwight. “There is less impact on the body, but you are still on your feet for a long time, so it serves as good recovery without losing fitness.”

Dwight also appears to be defying the sands of time by running quicker than ever. At the Southland Road Championships last month, he struck gold in a new PB of 33:09 – chipping ten seconds from his previous best recorded some seven years earlier.

So, what factors does he put down to running quicker than ever despite his advancing years?

“Part of it has been a job change which has allowed me to take stress out of my life,” explains the former policeman who now works as a fish and game officer. “That has definitely helped recovery. I get to work in the beautiful outdoors and getting decent sleep has done the body wonders.”

Yet Dwight is also quick to acknowledge the huge role his coach has played in his success in allowing him to thrive over a broad suite of events.

“From the beginning Shaun taught me that to run fast over long distances I needed to run fast over short distances but also that long distance gives you the base strength for the short distances,” he says. “They play off against each other, but recovery is important to ensure I avoid injury, particularly as I get older, and I have to be very careful now.”

Highly motivated to still be hitting PB performances, he is not short of future goals with the Kepler Challenge, 2024 New Zealand Short Trail Championships in Dunedin and the 2025 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Spain all in his future sights.

In the short term a top performance at the New Zealand Road Championships is the immediate goal, but given he started running relatively late in life does he have any regrets he did not take up the sport earlier in his life?

“I’d love to know what times I could have run had I taken on the sport at a younger age,” he admits. “I’m realistic that 33 minutes is not that quick at the senior level. But all I can do it try and stay fast for as long as I can. You cannot beat age, at some stage it will get me, but I’m determined to do everything in my power to fight that off as long as I can and be as competitive as I can for as long as possible.”

***View a full list of entrants for the 2023 New Zealand Road Championships here

***A full timetable of the New Zealand Road Championships at Massey University, Palmerston North is here