University of Canterbury will be going for their fifth senior men’s title in a row while their senior women’s will be aiming for the hat trick of three titles in a row at the national road relay championships to be staged in Hunua on Saturday.
The Varsity men will face strong challenges from Pakuranga, Wellington Scottish and New Brighton Olympic.
The relays are always the most popular event on the winter calendar and teams try to secure their top runners back from overseas.
Pakuranga has drawn in Dale Warrander and Sam Dobson from Australia who combined with Scott Winton, Alex Parlane, Nick Pannett, Jonny McKee, Johan Van Hoovels and Sam Kidd form a formidable combination.
Canterbury have Hugo Beamish and Malcolm Hicks back into the fold and with Andrew Davidson, Alex Fowler, Matt Harris, Luke Hurring, Matt Smith and Brett Tingay will take a lot to beat.
Scottish’s line up is Tim Hodge, Stefan Smith, Dan Wallis, Cary Chaffee, James Coubrough, Hamish Carson fresh from the world university games, Ben Barry and Jesse Patel.
New Brighton will go to the start at the YMCA Camp Adair with Mark Bailey, Brett Dawber, Jason Woolhouse from Australia, Josh Komen, Dave Ridley, Kerry Faass, Adrian Bailey and Hayden McLaren.
Based on estimated times everyone in the women’s relay will be chasing North Harbour Bays. They last won in 2006 in Feilding and are keen to regain the title with a powerful entry of Alice Mason, Lydia O’Donnell, Rowan Baird, Anna Bramley, Erin Montgomery, Danielle Trevis, Annika Pfitzinger and Michelle Hopkins.
Canterbury will still be in the hunt with Fiona Crombie, Tracy Crossley, Nicki McFadzien, Kellie Palmer, Rosa Scott, Angie Smit, Alex Williams and Anna Zakharova.
Pakuranga, winners in 2007 and 2008, have the support of national road champion Lisa Robertson who is ably backed by Hannah Barker, Robyn Young, Sarah Devoy, former national cross country champion Maria Akesson, Leah Hirschfeld, Erin Whitla and Megan Blackett. Hamilton City Hawks have the services of Camille Buscomb, Helen Rountree, Maddy Brunton and Sarah Biss.
Wellington Scottish will be defending their master men title with their team of Jim Jones, Michael Wray, Todd Stevens, Peter Stevens, Joseph Bulbulia, Grant McLean, David Kettles and Greg Mitchell. Hawks look threatening with John Crane, Glenn Sexton, Kent Hodgson and Tony Olsen in their team.
Hamilton City Hawks will be looking for their third title in a row in the master women, and two years in a row in the junior men.
Pakuranga and Scottish have entered strong teams in the master women and should challenge Hawks.
The junior men is shaping up to being a close race between Hawks, Auckland City Athletic, Wellington Harriers, Wesley, North Harbour Bays and University of Canterbury.
North Harbour Bays will be defending their junior women’s title while University of Auckland will be up against Scottish in their defence of the master men over 50 relay.
Auckland City Athletic winners of the junior women for three years in a row from 2007 look to have an edge with their team of Georgie Grgec, Courtney Hendricksen, Ashleigh Williams, Ella Mangan-Walker and Sally Wilkinson. Bays have entered Louisa Mann, Annaliese Everts, Natasha Bowyer, Maddie Dillon and Alana Lythe. Pakuranga will also be in the hunt in the junior women with two teams entered.
Auckland University’s over 50 team of Tony King, Alan Galbraith, Brett Katterns, Bryan Bates, Rick Mann, Gavin Stevens, Paul Clark and Graham Macky will take some beating.
The top club award should be a close contest between winners for the last two years Hamilton City Hawks, Scottish and Pakuranga.
The relays start at 9.00am, with the senior women over 64.3km starting at 9.30am and the senior men over the same distance at 10.00am.