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North Island Cross Country Champs success! 6 Jul 2022.

With the shortest day recently put behind us the next biggest event in the winter calendar is the traditional club assault on the North Island champs in Taupō. A large group of enthusiastic club runners made the trip up, with most of those seen wandering around the lake city behaving themselves for the most part (with perhaps some interesting takes on carbo loading enjoyed by some the night before).

Race day dawned chilly but perfectly clear with Rob leading a small crew getting our club tent up early thus cunningly grabbing a commanding position on the hill overlooking the start/finish chute. The young ones got the day rolling mid-morning with the senior races following as the day heated up. Taupō put on an absolute stunning winter’s day with nary a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind to bother those sweating it out on the nicely manicured and well set out undulating course.

Olympic was well represented across all the grades and that meant there were plenty of chances to cheer on the black singlet as the day unfolded and it was good to see ex-club president Mark Handley, and familiar face Craig Walker out there running the course, even if not in club colours. While we as a club had some outstanding results throughout the day, our real strength was in having so many people on the course of all abilities giving it their best, with each and every one racking up crucial points towards the top club trophy.

While our Masters runners were strong in most grades (as we have been in previous years), it was really nice to see the club have top results in the Senior men and Senior women races with Deborah Lynch and Toby Gaulter flying the flag high. Toby had by far the performance of the day with a commanding win in the blue ribbon Senior men’s event. I can’t recall any Olympic runner having won this race in the past and it was great to be there to see club history made.
Prizegiving was, as usual, quite delayed but as the sun went slowly down it was worth the wait as a steady troupe of Olympic runners made their way to the front. The big one for us was of course the top club trophy and while Pakuranga made a fight if it, we amassed the most points and took home the Big Cup once again, our tenth time as the best the North Island has to offer. A fantastic result!

An all-hands-in pack up and it was off to get changed for the club dinner which was at the local Cossie club. Much food, wine and merriment followed which was made all the better by the All Blacks doing their bit and winning the test match for us as we enjoyed the afterglow of a day well spent. There were plenty of tired bodies hitting the sack that night, although as usual, a large group got up early the next morning for a spectacular run along the river to prove that runners are just as crazy as most people think they are. Let’s all do it again next year anyone? Eleven-time winners does have a nice ring to it :-)

A big thank you must go to Andrea and Brian who organised much of the trip, entries and accommodation, Barry for picking up and dropping off the van plus his driving, Rob, Sharon and Adrian for bringing up and setting up so much of the club gear, the Olympic Committee, and of course most importantly all of you who made the journey and contributed to another great and successful trip! Runners, supporters, organisers and coaches you all made a difference, thank you! Kia kaha, let’s go Olympic!


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