Chignell wins Edmond Cup for fifth time

Runners leave the start line in the Edmond Cup at the Wingatui Racecourse on Saturday. PHOTO:...
Runners leave the start line in the Edmond Cup at the Wingatui Racecourse on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Oli Chignell laid to rest a disruptive 18 months to win the prized Edmond Cup silverware for a fifth time on Saturday.

In doing so, the Hill City-University runner joined a select group of athletes to have won on five or more occasions.

A few Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions have won the annual race, first held on June 8, 1907, at Forbury Park.

But only Allan Carman (five), 1950 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Harold Nelson (eight) and world cross-country representative Pat Sidon (11) have been as prolific or more so than Chignell.

Now a distance marketing student with Massey University, Chignell in 2015 became the youngest local athlete to win the cross-country and steeplechase event, as a 16-year-old.

He successfully defended the title for the next three years.

Along with 2011 champion Daniel Balchin (University of Canterbury), Chignell set off at a rapid pace in Saturday's race.

The two quickly spread the field into an Indian file formation over the first 400m.

By the halfway stage of the 5km journey, Chignell had taken an 18sec lead over Balchin and Oliver O'Sullivan, running a blinder, was just a further 8sec back in third spot.

Over the second lap of the Wingatui Racecourse, Chignell proved to be world class, as he extended his lead to finish the 5km journey over soft footing in 15min 7sec.

It was over a minute quicker than his previous victories.

Balchin cemented second place, finishing in 15min 49.8sec, and O'Sullivan crossed 18sec later for third, 25sec clear of the chasing bunch.

"It's been a while since I had a cross-country race and had a really solid effort," Chignell said.

"I've just been training really hard and using my training as my racing, so it's nice to come out and have a really solid crack and see what I could do."

Chignell is using the winter racing calendar to re-establish himself on the national stage, with a goal of qualifying for next year's Commonwealth Games in the 5000m and 10,000m events.

In the coming weeks Chignell with contest the Otago cross-country and national cross-country events, both being held on the Chisholm Links course.

Zara Geddes (Hill City-University) became possibly the youngest athlete to win the open women's race.

Geddes (15), a year 11 pupil at St Hilda's Collegiate, led from the start and gradually pulled away from other women in the mixed field, using the pace and strength of those competing in the open men's section around her.

 - Wayne Parsons

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