New Zealand Road Race Championships
Aaron Pulford (Thames) will be looking to put an end to a string of second or third placings when he tackles the New Zealand road running championships this Sunday. Pulford has already tested out the five lap 2km circuit around the roads of the Bruce Pulman Park in Takanini with a convincing win in the Auckland championship three weeks ago.
An accomplished 10,000m runner on the track having won the national title four years in a row from 2014, as well as the national half marathon in 2010 and the marathon title in 2015, but Pulford has yet to win a road title. The 28 year old won the 2007 U/18 road title and in the seniors was third in 2014 and 2017, second in 2015 and last year in Cambridge when he was just two seconds behind Oli Chignell.
The senior men’s race has drawn a strong field, including 2016 and 2017 champion Daniel Balchin (Canterbury), the 2015 and 2016 U/20 champion Michael Voss (Rotorua), Jacob Priddey (Hamilton) who won the U/18 title in 2011 and 2012, Connor Melton (Canterbury) second U/20 last year and Christopher Dryden (Canterbury) third U/20 last year. Also in the hunt for a medal are Josh Maisey (Auckland) who ran 29:59 for 10km in Melbourne last month.
The women’s 10km title is expected to be fought out by Katrina Andrew (Otago) and Audrey Gregan (Auckland). Mel Aitken (Otago) has entered both the senior and master races and could have the edge for a medal in the seniors ahead of Melissa Black (Wellington), Esther George (Wellington) and Bella Bloomfield (Otago).
Toby Gualter (Wellington), second in the national half marathon championship earlier this month, should add the U/20 road title to the cross country crown, as should Kirstie Rae (Wellington) in the U/20 women. Andres Hernandez (Whanganui) will be defending his U/18 title against the in form Will Anthony (Wellington). Martina Conner (Canterbury) will be seeking the double this season in the U/18 women going for the road title after winning the cross country last month. Isabella Richardson (Auckland) will be defending the U/18 title.
Brian Garmonsway (Wellington) and Jonny McKee (Auckland) are the leading master men competing. Lyndon Hohaia (Auckland) will have the senior 20km race walk to himself being the sole entrant in the category B national permit meet. Courtney Ruske (Canterbury) and Laura Langley (Napier) should battle out the senior women’s 20km which is also category B.
Interest will centre on Daniel du Toit (Wellington) in the U/20 10km walk. The 16 year old set a national age groups 5km record of 22:10 last month and he has a time of 46:38 for 10km, to his credit, which indicates he is in line for a fresh New Zealand under 17 and under 18 record.
The championships start at 8.30am with the race walks, the road races start at 11.30am with the senior 10km at 2.55pm.
The event will be live streamed on Athletics New Zealand Facebook page.