Lucas Duross added to his growing reputation as a tough cross country runner on Saturday with a strong win in the annual Hawkes Bay Gisborne Centre Cross Country Champs. Run in perfect conditions on a testing course at Te Awanga, Duross was quickly in control of the Senior Mens 12km event. Napier Harriers clubmate Steve Charles was the only one to test Duross but never quite got close enough to ask harder questions. Duross kept up a relentless pace over the six 2km loops to finally cross the line in 50 min 58 sec with Charles arriving 1 min 27 sec later. These two were well clear of Ron Middleton to make it a Napier trifecta.
Christian Leopard was another to impress as he used the event as a build-up to the upcoming New Zealand and Australian Secondary School Cross Country Champs. Leopard was on race pace over the first 6km but eased up over the last lap given that his upcoming events were at the lesser distance. Even with jogging the last lap the Napier BHS flyer still recorded a respectable 32 min 59 sec for the 8km test. He was well clear of Hastings Harriers duo Sean Morrison and Todd Burnard in the M19 event.
The Masters Men event over 8km was a Napier Harriers benefit with Robert Strong keeping his long legs ticking over to comfortably account for the chasing pack headed by Giles Pearson and Eric Phimister. Strong would have been happy with the 36.21 posted on such a testing course.
The Pearson name went one better though a little later as Connor Pearson produced his best run of the season when heading a strong M16 field. With Napier BHS runner Kyle Cornelison setting the early pace, Pearson bided his time so that midway through the 2nd lap of 3 he surged to the lead. This gap widened for the remainder of the race and the final finish time of 25 min 47 sec for the 6km was good reward. Cornelison stuck on for 2nd in 26 min 19 sec to keep Zayne Jennings at bay.
Roisin Pearson could not replicate her brothers' result in the W19 though as she found Holly Manning in good form for the 6km test. Pearson kept Manning in her sight for the first two laps before fading in the final third. Manning stretched out nicely to record 29 min 02 sec with Pearson 34 sec back at the finish but well clear of Napier clubmate Shannon Geary in third.
In other events, Annie Kane always had the field under control to take victory in the Masters Women from Marilyn Brown and Nneka Okonta. Sean Findlay outlasted Alex Langley to take the B14 while Jenna Tidswell was untroubled in scoring a win in the G14. Anne Rinck collected the W16 grade. The largest field of the day lined up in the U12's with Oliver Marshall again in dominant form completing a win in 8 min 06 sec for the 2km. Will Tidswell kept the Napier flyer honest for a while to be 2nd home in 8 min 44 sec with Max Taylor hot on his tail in 3rd. Annie Apperley scored a victory for Hastings in the girls U12 to be well ahead of Sophie Moore at the finish.
Napier Harrier Club (N). Hastings Harrier Club (H).
Senior Men – 12km. 1. Lucas Duross (N) 50.58. 2. Steve Charles (N) 52.25. 3. Ron Middleton (N) 56.48.
Masters Men – 8km – 1. Robert Strong (N) 36.21. 2. Giles Pearson (N) 38.58. 3. Eric Phimister (N) 59.28.
Masters Women – 6km – 1. Annie Kane (N) 33.10. 2. Marilyn Brown (N) 34.14. 3. Nneka Okonta (N) 35.43.