RRW: Global Cross Country Season Kicks Off Saturday In New Zealand

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(26-Aug) — The global cross country season kicks off this Saturday in Dunedin, New Zealand, with the Athletics New Zealand Cross Country Challenge.  The competition was originally to be the country’s national championships, but Athletics New Zealand changed its status because the island nation’s current COVID alert level makes it impossible for athletes from the Auckland region to take part.

Maiya Christini (left) and Rebekah Greene compete at the 2019 New Zealand Cross Country Championships (photo courtesy of Athletics New Zealand)

“After consultation with our regional centres and the local organising committee, Athletics NZ has not taken the decision to amend the status of this event lightly,” said Athletics New Zealand CEO Pete Pfitzinger, a two-time Olympic marathoner.  “We do, however, wish to give those who are still able to compete the chance to do so safely and, with many talented runners based in other parts of New Zealand, we are sure the standard of racing will be of high quality.”

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The event will have a full slate of races, from the 3-kilometer distance for boys and girls under 14, to 10-kilometer races for senior men and women.  Racing will take place on a U-shaped, two-kilometer loop at the Chisholm Links golf course adjacent to St. Kilda Beach.  Dunedin is located on New Zealand’s South Island, about a five-hour drive south from Christchurch.

The global cross country season typically runs from late August to late March.  Action in the northern hemisphere begins next month with high school and collegiate competition (limited and uncertain schedule due to COVID), then begins in Europe in October with many meetings in November, especially in Great Britain and Spain.  A pre-holiday peak is reached in December with the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships on December 12, in San Francisco (if held) and the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Dublin the following day.  Several World Athletics cross country permit meetings and many national championships are scheduled for the first quarter of 2021, but the 2021 World Athletics Cross Country Championships –originally scheduled for Bathurst, Australia, on March 20– will not take place at that time. The local organizing committee has asked World Athletics to delay the competition because of the pandemic.

The 2019 Athletics New Zealand senior champions were Maiya Christini (Wellington Harriers) and Cameron Graves (North Harbour Bays).