by Chris Tobin
A team of runners from San Francisco will be among more than 800 athletes competing at Timaru’s Ashbury Park over the weekend in the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Cross Country Championships.
“As we are in the early stage of our season, we are looking for the students to have fun, compete to their best ability at this time, and experience our shared love of distance racing with all the New Zealand competitors,” St Ignatius College Preparatory’s head coach Nicholas Alvarado said.
“We have brought 18 students of all abilities to compete.”
The co-ed school of about 1500 pupils has developed a relationship with Auckland Grammar, which has resulted in the team coming to New Zealand.
“We billeted their distance squad in 2003 for the first time.
Start times for the main races on Saturday are:
10.30am: Year-9 girls (3km).
11.00am: Year-9 boys (3km).
11.30am: Junior girls (3km).
Noon: Junior boys/ para boys (4km/2km).
12.40pm: Senior girls/ para girls (4km/2km).
1.20pm: Senior boys (6km).
“Since then Auckland Grammar has visited about six times, and we have billeted them each time.
“Our coach, Chad Evans, co-ordinated and planned our two-week trip to New Zealand, where we will visit Auckland, Taupo, Queenstown, Timaru, and Christchurch.
A total of 807 athletes from 134 schools from around New Zealand will be competing in the championships, with the biggest representations coming from Westlake Boys’ (45), Whanganui Collegiate (32), Wellington College (30) and New Plymouth Boys’ (27).
Schools covering the Aoraki region from Oamaru through to Methven have 70 athletes running, led by Timaru Boys’ High School with 15. Others are: Craighead Diocesan School (14), Roncalli College (12), Opihi College (7), St Kevin’s (4), Mountainview High School, Waitaki Boys’ High School, Ashburton College, Waitaki Girls’, Timaru Girls’ (all three each), Mt Hutt College (2), and Geraldine High School (1).