North Island XC Champs 2023 Results
Well it was fantastic to leave that terrible Waikato weather behind last Saturday to travel to Taupo for the North Island Cross Country Champs. It was an acceptable day weather wise in Taupo with a few passing showers, but mainly fine and sunny – although the wind was a bit chilly…
It was a very large field with around 530 runners taking part. We had ~20 Hawks travel down to compete – well done to all of you. Some fantastic results with 5 runners making the podium. Standout performances (once again) from
- Boh Ritchie who ran up a grade in the Womens Under 20 and took a convincing win!
- Kerry White had another great run to come home 2nd in the Senior Womens race. Also
- Dave Clark who was a close second to Gavin Smith in the MM70-74 age grade….
- Jack Stirling who took 3rd in the BU14 grade – 2 places ahead of his brother Max,
and while he admits he didn’t have his best day,
- Mike Peck also managed a comfortable 2nd in the MM55-59 grade.
Also worth mentioning John Bowe who had a strong run to finish just outside of the medals in 4th in the MM50-54 grade, and Iain Rattray who had a great run to beat his time from 5 years ago, finishing 5th in the MM45-49 grade.
It was great to see the Hawks singlets out there going hard, and mixing it with some of the best runners in the North Island.
Full results are available NIXC_Full_Results_2023
|Women U18 4000m
|Women U20 4000m
|Senior Women 5000m
|Senior Men 9000m
|Masters Men 35-39 6000m
|Masters Men 45-49 6000m
|Masters Men 50-54
|Masters Men 55-59 6000m
|Masters Men 65-69 6000m
|Masters Men 70-74 6000m
By Dave Gunn
This was my first time running the famous Spa Thermal Park XC course and it did not disappoint!
Travelling down however I was re-thinking my decision to take part – with heavy rain, and the car dash telling me it was a cool 4 degrees outside…But with a couple of other keen Hawks in the car with me, it would not be appropriate to turn around and retreat back home to the warmth of my lounge for the day…
So onwards we went – and what do you know 10 mins out from Taupo it appeared to be fining up….the rain stopped and the sun was peeking through. Apart from the cool wind (not apparent in the photos) it almost looked pleasant..!
So we arrived and found a suitable spot for the Hawks gazebo, just as the first race of the day started. There was a good buzz around the park as the large fields of keen kids in the junior races zipped around the course…
Race after race, everyone was giving it their all. Parents and supporters doing their best to spur them on…Great fun…
Meanwhile – the Senior races were only around 90 minutes away at this point, and we noted the Taupo Girl Guides cooking some delicious steak sandwiches…We contemplated a pre-race early lunch, but thought better of it. Instead, Paul Ewart and I trundled off for a course recce and warmup lap. The pace was easy and gave us plenty of time to formulate a race plan, and identify suitable areas for a push (maybe run hard up the hills and coast down??) Little did I know at this point that I would have no “push” on tap for my race…
Anyway, as each race set off, you could see the determination on the faces of the competitors, it was impressive to watch – some super fast times across the board, and the layout of the course afforded good views of most of the action. It was great to cheer on our fellow Hawks and be a part of an event this big – with over 500 runners across the divisions.
It was fantastic to see Boh wear the Womens U20 field down and come out on top…! She was in a small group at the front of the field after the first lap, but pushed through and ended up clearing away with around 500m to go. An excellent effort from her averaging around 3:34 per km…! Also well worth watching was the Senior Womens race where Kerry White again had a great race to finish the 5km race 2nd in 18:43, 19 secs behind winner Anneke Arlidge. Super effort.
In the men’s races, the MM 35-49 raced first, another great battle between Ben Ruthe and Steve Rees-Jones – neck and neck after one lap, but with Ben making a break with only 100m or so to go. They were both flying across the line at the finish – each winning their respective grades – Steve setting a new race record for his MM45-49 division in 20:16 in the process, to go with his race record set previously in the MM40-44 grade (which Sam narrowly missed out on). Also great to watch Iain Rattray running really well to finish 5th in the 6k race in 24:14.
Onto the next MM race (that would be me…) – as mentioned above, not sure if it was the cold or lack of fitness, but I wasn’t really feeling it, and started off at a pretty pedestrian pace. I did pick it up a little in the second km, and passed a few, but suffered a bit at about 2.5km where my foot started playing up (damn PF). At this point I wasn’t sure I would even finish – but finish I did, and I was happy with that. There was some good hard running in this race too, with Dave Clark just being beaten into second in the MM70-74 grade by the legend that is Gavin Smith (who has just turned 70 I believe). Also Mike Peck picked up a silver medal in the MM55-59 grade. John Bowe also represented well running his 6k in 23:17 to finish just outside the medals in 4th place.
Finally it was time for the Senior Men’s race over 9km, which was a spectacle…! 3 x 3km laps, and the lead runners (and most of the field actually) passed through the first lap in around 10 mins – or a touch over 3 mins per km which most maintained for the entire race. The eventual winner was William Little from the Whippets Running Project in a super fast 28:16…! You know it is a quality field when Michael Voss does not even make the podium (he was 4th for the record)…Unbelievable to watch, and hugely motivating….
So after the racing there was just enough time to grab that eagerly anticipated delicious steak sandwich, however to my extreme disappointment they had “sold out”…! (sad face)…
Oh well, a banana and protein shake would have to suffice….So then it was back to pack up the gazebo and load up the car, then back down to watch the official prizegiving and congratulate all the deserved winners. It was impressive to run with so many great runners, and legends of our sport. I chuckled to myself at the prizegiving when I realised that the first 3 place getters in the MM60-64 age grade were all faster than me…! (the winner was the evergreen Bruce Edwards from Lake City!)
In summary – what a great way to spend a day….These events are awesome to be a part of regardless of how fast or competitive (or not) you are…The crowd of fellow runners are always encouraging and supportive, and it is great to meet up with fellow runners from all over the country…I will be back….