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The 40th running of the relays at the Dunedin Pony Club on Three Mile Hill attracted 40 four-person teams to tackle the 2km loop on a course with mostly firm underfoot conditions and just a few muddy patches.
Caversham’s greater depth shone through as it came from behind in the 4x2km race to beat a strong Hill City-University senior women’s team.
Zara Geddes made a sizzling start for HCU, posting the fastest time in the grade (7min 50sec) to put her team in pole position.
Young Ariki star Catherine Lund was not far behind on the first leg with a second-fastest time of 7min 57sec.
That left the Caversham runners of Kristy Eyles, Becky De La Harpe, Claire Anderton and Laura Bungard with plenty of catching up to do as they were lying in third place at the start of the second leg.
However, the overall depth of Caversham won the day as it gradually made inroads.
De La Harpe ran a nice 8min 16sec on the second leg, and Caversham soared into the lead on the last leg to win in 34min 34sec.
Hill City-University was second in 35min 8sec, Ariki third in 36min 15sec and Leith fourth in 37min 17sec.
The senior and masters men’s 4x4km race was a thriller.
Hill City-University, the defending senior men’s champion, was missing some of its top runners and knew it was in for a battle.
Leith runner Janus Staufenberg laid down a marker with a time of 13min 58sec on the first leg, handing team-mate Corey Lewis a 61sec lead over HCU going into the second leg.
After Hamish McKinlay completed the third leg, Liam Chesney blazed home in a fastest time of 13min 53 sec to seal the title for Leith in 59min 43sec.
Hill City-University (1hr 2min 58sec) was second and Caversham (1hr 9min 42sec) third.
The associated ultra race individual Ponydale Challenge ran concurrently with the relay for a third time.
Senior men’s runner Matthew Adams broke Chris Taylor’s record, running 16 2km laps in 2hr 36min 34sec.
Shannon Rhodes was second (first 35-plus runner), running 14 laps in 2hr 28min 12sec, and Fiordland runner Croydon Paton was third (first 50-plus runner), completing 13 laps in 2hr 36min 45sec.
Eric Scharpf (11 laps, 2hr 9min 31sec), Sarah Rhodes (11 laps, 2hr 10min 6sec) and Pieter Burger (five laps, 1hr 33min 34sec) also competed in the gruelling challenge.
-- Staff Reporter