Cross Country Champions out to make it a double for the season
It’s on the cards that Oli Chignell and Lisa Cross will add the New Zealand road title to the cross country crown they won in Wellington three weeks ago when they tackle the New Zealand road championships in Cambridge on Sunday.
Both were in top form in the mud and they are equally proficient on the road. Chignell was second in the junior road title race last year and has the stamina to foot it over the 10km distance as evidenced by his fifth placing in Christchurch 10km in June 2017 in 31:30 and victory in the same race this year improving to 30:21.
However Chignell won’t have all his own way with a strong field chasing him hard. Daniel Balchin champion for the last two years has the fastest personal best time of 29:25 and will keen to make it three years in a row. Peter Wheeler is improving with each race and comes fresh from winning the Auckland title in a personal best 32:06. Aaron Pulford has had the benefit of racing on the St Peter’s Cambridge course winning the recent Waikato Bay of Plenty title in 30:47, just outside his best of 30:30 in finishing third in the 2014 championship. Caden Shields the 2013 10,000m track champion has finished runner-up in the last two years and in June in Tasmania reduced his best time to 30:03. Malcolm Hodge likewise has shown good improvement winning the Wellington title in 31:06, a step up from his 32:21 for 14th in Christchurch last year. Nick Horspool, the 2016 marathon champion, sixth last year, Matthew Taylor seventh, Kristian Day eighth, Isaac Murphy tenth, Sean Eustace with a best of 30:57, Jacob Priddey with a best of 31:17, Jared Monk, Niam Macdonald and Joshua Baan are all capable of pacing it through with the leading pack from the start.
Cross won the title in 2011 in Wellington in her best time to date of 34:33 and a year later was second. Lydia O’Donnell three times tack champion from 2014 has yet to win the road 10km title, having finished second in 2015 and 2016. O’Donnell has stuck to the road racing this winter and in June in Christchurch won the 10km in a personal best 34:19. Alice Mason, New Zealand marathon champion for the last two years, has a best of 33:36 and won the Waikato title at St Peter’s in 36:40. She was sixth in the national event in 2012. Esther Keown, fourth in Masterton in 2016, has a best of 36:16 in winning the Auckland title in 2016. Penny Peskett, third last year and second to Cross in the cross country has a best of 35:24. Sarah Gardner with a best of 36:38 on the Gold Coast in July was third in the Waikato championships and will have the benefit of racing on the nationals course. Kara Macdermid, the national junior women’s 5000m champion in 2016, has yet to test herself over 10km but based on her 5000m times is capable of a bold showing.
Christopher Dryden will be out to add the under 20 8km title to the cross country he convincingly won in Wellington. Also coming into contention will be the under 18 champion from last year Samuel Tanner, Connor Melton, Kane Elms, Bradley Christison and Sam Cadwallader. Georgia Shinn, Gina Butler and Alyssa Bullot should be prominent when the under 20 women medals are presented.
The under 18 men should feature Andres Hernandez, Benjamin Wall, Andre Le Pine-Day, Max Taylor, Ben Bidois, Andrew Carr, Zane Powell and Sam Duncan. Charli Miller and Isabella Richardson should battle out the under 18 5km ahead of Tillie Hollyer, Tamara Reeves, Joanna Poland and Gemma Baldey.
Lindsay Barwick, Michelle Hopkins, Tanja Miller, Michelle Van Looy, Carolyn Smith and Bridie Hart are the leading master women entered. Jonny McKee should dominate the master men’s race with Nick Pannett, Brian Garmonsway, Craig Kirkwood, Levente Timar, Sasha Daniels, Nick Moore, David Fitch, Chris Mardon and Tony Broadhead battling it out for the various age group titles.
Tony Sargisson, 2006 Commonwealth Games 50km silver medallist will contest the senior men’s 10km road walk. Laura Langley, 2017 3000m and 10km race walk champion, is entered in the women’s 10km walk, Alexander Brown is in the U/20 walk, Laura Kehely in the U/18 5km and Daniel Du Toit in the U/18 10km
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent