News & Updates

29 August 2020 • Cross Country

Stunning displays mark Cross Country Challenge

An action-packed day of thrilling running ended in stunning fashion as Hayden Wilde and Eva Goodisson romped home to claim the senior men’s and women’s titles respectively at the Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge in Dunedin today.

For full results from the 2020 Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge please click here

Wilde ignited the senior men’s race to claim a commanding victory against a highly-competitive field at a sun-drenched Chisholm Links.

The international triathlete and national senior 5000m champion gave an imperious demonstration of his running ability to destroy the opposition and claim victory by a mammoth margin of 1:09 from training partner and fellow Waikato Bay of Plenty athlete Sam Tanner.

In a race dripping with quality, 2018 national cross country champion Oli Chignell from Otago made use of home advantage to secure third spot.

Yet the eagerly-awaited race – which provided one of the best-quality domestic cross country fields for many years – was all about Wilde, who defied the gusty conditions and rhythm-sapping undulations of the links to reign supreme.

Racing to the front from the gun, Wilde had already opened a clear gap on the field by the conclusion of the first of five 2km laps, from which point his iron-like grip only strengthened.

Astonishingly, despite the quality of the opposition, Wilde held a lead of more than a minute at 6km – from which point victory was a mere formality from the man from Whakatane, who celebrates his 23rd birthday on Tuesday.

In an exciting scrap for the other placings, Sam Tanner, the 20-year-old University of Washington student, unleashed a fearsome late kick to bank an impressive silver medal with Chignell placing eight seconds further back in third.

“My goal was to go out at a three-minute (per kilometre) pace, I knew the guys would be strong,” said Wilde, who has focused his competitive efforts on running over the past six months because the pandemic has decimated the global triathlon calendar.

“I just had to keep as consistent as possible. I didn’t expect to have a more-than-a-minute lead after lap three, so it was nice going into the ‘tempo lap’ with such a cushion. That then allowed me to just smash the final lap and secure my position.”

A courageous front-running display from Goodisson meanwhile earned the Hawkes Bay/Gisborne athlete a richly-deserved victory ahead of home hope Rebekah Greene and Kara Macdermid from Manawatu.

The 21-year-old Goodisson, who returned to New Zealand in March from the University of California, Davis due to the pandemic, led from the early stages with Greene and Macdermid, the 2019 national cross country bronze and silver medallists respectively, content to sit in her slipstream.

Macdermid dropped off the pace on lap three and Goodisson’s relentless speed was also to prove too much for Greene, as a winning gap was opened up in the final few kilometres.

While Goodisson took the plaudits with an impressive win, Greene produced another consistent performance to place second with Macdermid grabbing third.

“It was a tough race,” explained Goodisson, a regular competitor in the Athletics NZ virtual events in recent months.

“I’m used to racing over 6km in the US, so 10km was a long way. I did not have any real expectations coming in, I just wanted to run and wait to see what would happen. The wind is not very good for tall people like myself but I just wanted to stick with Rebekah and I fed off her. I was just lucky, I had that little bit more in the final few kilometres.”

Elsewhere, Cameron Clark produced a masterful display to lead home a Canterbury one-two in the men’s U20 8km race. The 18-year-old national U20 steeplechase bronze medallist used both his formidable strength and technical skills to make his winning move on the final 2km lap to clinch a four-second victory from Max Yanzick. Wellington’s Liam Lamb, national U20 3000m champion, rounded out the top three.

Pre-event favourite Charli Miller (Waikato Bay of Plenty) lived up to expectations to take a decisive victory in the women’s U20 race. The national U20 5000m champion finished 16 seconds clear of Maya Irving of Otago with Wellington’s Charlotte Floodsmith-Ryan placing third.

Will Anthony finished one place higher than at the 2019 New Zealand Cross Country Championships to take top spot in the men’s U18 race with a dominant display. The Wellington athlete finished a huge 53 seconds clear of second-placed George Lambert (Manawatu) with Ethan Smolej (Canterbury) completing the top three.

Hannah Gapes of Waikato Bay of Plenty was a clear winner in of the women’s U18 event, finishing almost half-a-minute clear of Penelope Salmon (Auckland). Hannah Prosser (Otago) completed the podium placings in third.

A titanic tussle between Pai Wynyard (Canterbury) and Hayden Waddell (Waikato Bay of Plenty) provided the finish of the day in an exhilarating boys’ U16 race.

The duo ran stride-for-stride for much of the 4km distance only for Waddell, son of 2000 Olympic singles sculls rowing champion Rob Waddell, to made his bid for glory in the final 200m. Opening up a five-metre lead, he appeared set for victory only for Wynyard to respond by unleashing a stunning late surge to claim victory by a matter of inches in a rousing finale. James McLeay of Southland rounded out the top three.

A powerful front-running display by Renee Carey (Waikato Bay of Plenty) propelled the youngster to success in the girls’ U16 4km race. Behind, Zara Geddes (Otago) snared second spot with Eliza Squire (Wellington) clinching third.

In the boys’ U14 race, Finn Woodhouse of Canterbury grabbed top spot in the 3km event ahead of Queenstown Athletics duo Jude Deaker and Dylan Collins.

Boh Ritchie of Waikato Bay of Plenty was the top finisher in the U14 girls race, holding off Eva Green (Wellington) and Siena Mackley (Southland) respectively.

In the masters divisions, Dwight Grieve was an eye-catching winner of the men’s 40-44 category from his fellow Southlander Kelvin Meade.

For full results from the 2020 Athletics NZ Cross Country Challenge please click here

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