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Bathgate (34), the head of development for TracPlus in Dunedin, has spent the past 18 months recuperating from a niggling Achilles, and yesterday’s run came after six weeks of total rest in order to recover after it flared up again as he attempted to resume racing.
“Running fast is not something I’ve done in the past six weeks,” he said of attempting to make a comeback in the Leith 10km event on the same course in early September.
After finishing the Leith 10km Bathgate realised the injury still needed a little time and decided the take a “few months off”.
But as he felt refreshed, the lure of yesterday’s race was to much to resist.
“I’ve just been doing the rehab work and not training at all. But then it got to race week and I heard that a couple of the key players were not going to be here today and that there was some good medals on the line. I thought ‘Shoot, I can’t really pass that up’.”
When Bathgate found himself up against the in-form Nathan Shanks (Caversham), Finn Molloy (Hill City-University) and Xavier Walker (Ariki), he knew he had his work cut out for him and he initially settled for going for one of the minor medals.
The four were locked together over the first half of the course but when the field turned at the halfway mark, Bathgate thought he would give it a nudge and opened up a slight advantage which he managed to hold through to the finish, crossing in 33min 52sec.
Walker was hot on his heels just 6sec behind and Molloy third in 35min 33sec.
A winner of both the Otago half marathon and marathon titles before his injury, Bathgate admitted afterwards that the victory took him by surprise.
“I thought why not? I’ll just give it a crack,” he said.
“It’s nice to only lose 30sec of fitness in six weeks and this time I did run it a lot more conservatively,” he added of being 30sec down on his Leith 10km time six weeks ago.
Rebekah Greene (Hill City-University) dominated the women’s field, winning in a personal-best time of 34min 58sec, and going under 35min for 10km for the first time.
Green was thrilled to have carved almost a minute from her previous best for the distance considering she was suffering stiffness in her lower back.
“I think over the cross-country season I did a few too many hills, and that combined with a lot of sitting in my day job,” she said adding it was not something that bothered her when she ran fast.
Greene who will now concentrate on the 800m and 1500n over the summer season, said she was happy with the base she had built up, despite the interruptions to the winter schedule.
Promising junior Maya Irving (Caversham) won the junior women’s 5km event in 17min 31sec, while Caversham clubmate Ben Rowley won the junior men’s title in 17min 2sec.