|WHAC Junior Men's Silver Medal Team: Callum Stewart. Tom Caughley, Nathan Tse, Graham Tattersall (Coach), Jake Tennent, Marcus Karamanolis, Max Zorn (Photo WHAC)|
Auckland City Athletic Club, twelfth last year, returned to the South Island and the classic Takahe to Akaroa relay to topple the defending champions New Brighton Olympic and collect the coveted senior men’s relay title.
Brighton ran their two key runners over the first two laps, with Daniel Balchin taking a minute out of ACA’s Ben Moynihan and Callan Moody increasing their lead by a further 26 seconds over Jono Jackson. Brighton’s Mark Bailey was almost even with Matt Baxter on the third lap. Both teams ran their master runners on the next stage with only five seconds difference between Kerry Faass and Simon Yarrow. The dramatic change in the race came with Mathew Mildenhall on the 10.7km fifth lap from Lake Forsyth to Cooptown who outran Brighton’s Hayden McLaren by 90 seconds to pull ACA through to a six second lead.
New comer to the Club Andrew Davidson ran a blinder for ACA on the tough 6.8km 420m climb to Hilltop handing over to Mike Banks 46 seconds clear of Brighton’s Nick Rennie. On the downhill Mike Banks added a further 1:52 to their lead and despite losing some ground to Brighton’s Matt Lambert on the last lap Josh Maisey brought ACA home at the Akaroa Domain nearly two minutes clear. Wellington Scottish were third followed by Pakuranga, Wesley and North Harbour Bays. A beaming smiling Maisey said that it was an absolute amazing result.
“To be twelfth last year to first this year. Everyone did their part it was just a really great team atmosphere and we just did the job,” he said. “The way that we turned it around from last year is just finally having a good team and turning that junior success (ACA have won three junior men titles) into senior success is just amazing,” he added. Davidson who has been a member of a number of University of Canterbury winning teams said that he hopes to make a habit of being in a winning team.
“It’s nice to get a chance when you’re become a bit of an old hat to get a chance to race all the young guns again. I felt okay on the hill and when I passed John Hellemans at that stage I thought I hopefully could get to the top in reasonable time,” said Davidson.
North Harbour Bays made it two years in a row in the senior women’s relay with their team of Rebecca Fogarty, Amelia Watkinson, Annika Pfitzinger, Esther Keown, Lydia O’Donnell, Alannah Van Hout, Kelly Parlane, and anchor runner Commonwealth Games double silver medallist Nikki Hamblin leading throughout. They were nearly ten minutes ahead of Wellington Harriers with Wellington Scottish third. O’Donnell said it was a great result with an almost new team from last year.
“It was the first race back for Esther Keown and it was good having her back in the team. We were ten minutes ahead when I took over on lap five and I wanted to get the record on that lap and I was just 13 seconds off the record so I just missed it, But it was good to have that just to set myself to try and push myself throughout the race, I’ve been really sick for the last few months and I’m just coming back,” said O’Donnell.
ACA won the junior women’s relay for the third year in a row.
Christchurch Avon collected the junior men’s title, Hamilton City Hawks the masters men, Nelson the two older age group master men and Wellington Scottish made it four years in a row in the masters women.
Anne Hare who ran the seventh lap said that it was a close race between their team, Hamilton City Hawks and Port Hills up to the end of lap six.“Hawks were two seconds ahead going into the final lap and then Katie Kemp just blew everyone away, she flew and we won by nearly seven minutes. It was very exciting race for an old ladies race,” said Hare.
Wellington Scottish won the top club award on a count-back from ACA with Wellington Harrier Athletic Club third.
Source: Athletics New Zealand