NZ cross-country champs key focus

While lockdown was a major disruption for most sports, athletics has come through a little better.

The rules allowed many athletes to continue training, the winter season is going ahead slightly later, and a national event looms in Dunedin.

The national cross-country championships will be held on August 29, postponed from August 1, at Chisholm Links.

It provides a key event for the sport in the city as it looks to return to action.

Athletics Otago president Kevin O’Sullivan said the golf club had been "very obliging" and the course was a good one.

"For cross-country running it offers just about everything we want.

"There’s variation in terrain and because of the sand base to the links course it drains well. I’s not going to be an unpleasant course in winter.

"That was certainly the appeal of that and we’ve had a very good working relationship with the golf community out there who have been very supportive of having that event out there."

It will be the pinnacle event of the southern winter season, which will run through to November this year.

That creates some overlap with the start of the summer track and field season, although that should not have a major impact.

On the community side, runners and walkers have returned to their clubs fit and ready to go.

While many other sports were limited in their ability to train, running and walking was a focal point of many people’s Covid-19 experience.

O’Sullivan thought it had been "quite neat" that exercise had become such a focal point for many people.

As harriers and walking clubs began again last weekend, he said that popularity had not waned and if anything could grow.

"I think there’s a genuine belief that the numbers have returned surprisingly strongly to clubs in their opening runs for the season.

"People have been looking forward to it.

"There is a genuine feeling there has been a positive response.

"It won’t always be competitive, but some of the local harrier clubs have walking groups and I’m sure they’ll be boosted as a consequence."


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