They may not have won top prize but Whakatane’s athletes certainly showed they can mix it with the best in Athletics New Zealand’s virtual running competition.
The competition saw Whakatane athletes tackle five kilometre runs against others around the country with an Ekiden relay, 10km and 1km races also distances they could compete in.
The Whakatane contingent featured international triathlete Hayden Wilde, William Doney, Liam Dooley, Aidan Campbell, Tenuis Schoneveld, Shona Stewart, Katrina Anderson and Kendan Gibson.
As expected, like he did at the national championships back in March, Wilde posted the fastest time in the country.
He recorded an electric 13.21 minutes in his 5km run, a staggering minute-and-a-half quicker than his nearest opponent.
Doney said it was great getting a team together and giving the series a crack.
“Hayden claimed the national senior men’s title with a world class time of 13.21 mins. He was well in front of the second fastest runner.”
He said entering the competition was a no-brainer.
“It was a great tool to use as motivation to keep fit but for me personally, a large portion of my New Zealand team-mates who attended the Oceania Championships with me were getting involved and the usual banter between us spurred me to join. The banter then transferred to the club Facebook page. We have some incredibly talented and motivated people who would do well in a national event.”
“It was a nice way of supporting Hayden on the national scene as it has been just been him for the past couple of years.”
More than 100 clubs got involved, which is great for the sport, Doney said.
“It’s more than you would ever get at a national event, so that’s fantastic to see.”
Competitors had to do a 5km run near where they were spending lockdown and the run couldn’t drop more than 5 metres in elevation.
The statistics were then recorded through various apps on peoples phone, Strava being a popular one.
“They had to follow the rules and do the run themselves or alongside someone in their own bubble.”
Doney felt competing in the virtual series was a great way for people to keep their fitness up during the lockdown.
“To be honest, we have a high participation rate in the club so our placing could have climbed higher if we had more people involved.”
”I think it has been great for people to keep training with a goal in mind. A lot of events have been cancelled, so people may have been struggling for motivation to get outside and train. This has been a great little incentive for those involved.”
“It looks as though our cross country season will start at level two, so it’s a good chance for those people who have been exercising and found a new love for it to come and join the club and socialise a bit more.”
Overall, the team of Wilde, Dooley, Stewart and Anderson finished 12th with the club 23rd in the points competition.
Wilde bagged the senior men’s title, Dooley was third in the junior grade with an outstanding time of 15 mins and 58 seconds.
Stewart claimed 26th in the masters women’s division with Anderson three spots further back.
Gibson secured 26th and Campbell 28th in the senior men’s division, while Doney was 98th and Schoneveld 130th in the masters men’s section.