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Six times New Zealand cross country champion Phil Costley faces strong challenges from the younger brigade as he chases his 31st national running title at the New Zealand cross country championships in Waikanae on Saturday.
The 40 year old from Canterbury has opted for the senior 12km race where he will go head to head with Melbourne based Shaun Krawitz and Aucklander Alex Parlane.
Costley first won the cross country crown in 1997 and his last victory was in 2006. An accomplished country runner Costley has also won the now discontinued 4km cross country title four times.
Krawitz won the cross country trial for the world championships at Trentham in January and went on to represent New Zealand in Poland where he finished 98th in 36m 30s. Krawitz also competed at the 2004 world junior cross country championships where he finished 88th. Krawitz won the New Zealand under 18 cross country title in 2002. Two weeks ago in Tasmania Krawitz was fourth in the Launceston 10km road race in 30m 20s.
First year senior Parlane has swept all before him, apart from his first race, this season. He triumphed at the North Island championships in Taupo where he won by a wide margin of nearly a minute. Parlane has been clearing out at the half way point in his races and maintaining commanding leads to the finish.
Others expected to vie for the top six are Stephen Lett of Auckland, the MacDonald twins Iain and Kyle from Waikato Bay of Plenty, Hamish Carson, Terefe Ejigu, Stefan Smith and James Coubrough of Wellington, Luke Hurring and Brett Tingay of Canterbury and Dougal Thorburn of Otago.
Fiona Crombie of Canterbury will be defending the senior women’s title over 8km. The next three placings from last year Kellie Palmer of Canterbury, Sarah Biss of Waikato Bay of Plenty and Rachel Kingsford are also back keen to improve on their previous performance. Also in with a chance of a high placing are Tina Harris of Wellington, Shireen Crumpton of Otago and the Auckland champion Penny Peskett who has improved with each outing this season.
Following his national record breaking 10,000m run at the World Junior Championships in Canada, Aaron Pulford of Waikato Bay of Plenty should breeze to victory in retaining his M19 8km title. Also chasing a place on the podium will be Cameron Graves and Jonathan Jackson of Auckland, Ryan McAlister of Wellington, Craig Lautenslager and Tom Stringer of Tasman, Canterbury’s Alex Fowler and John Schreuder of Otago.
Nicki McFadzien of Canterbury and Danielle Trevis of Auckland should battle out the W19 6km, while Matt Baxter of Taranaki, Ben Moynihan of Auckland and Kieron McDonald of Wellington heads the M16 entries.
Ashleigh Williams of Auckland, Lydia Marshall of Canterbury, Anna Kean of Otago and Stephanie Dickins of Manawatu Wanganui are the leading runners in the W16 4km.
Jean Kozyniak and Susannah Lynch of Wellington should battle out the W14 3km and David Lee of Pakuranga and Jacob Priddey of Hamilton City Hawks should feature in the M14 3km.
Richard Bennett of Canterbury will be going for five years in a row in the masters 8km while Tracy Crossley of Canterbury and Wellington’s Victoria Humphries should lead in the master women 6km.
A total of 433 runners have entered for the 12 event programme which starts with the masters men 35 plus 8km at 10am.