In my final year of primary school, year 6, I made it into the Wellington team to compete at the primary and intermediate schools interprovincial cross country championships, versing runners from all over New Zealand. A requirement for competing at inter-provincials was that we had to join a running club, so I joined the Wellington Harriers. Leading up to the event, I trained one or two times per week with my running club, and occasionally a teacher from my primary school would go for runs with me, which was great. I managed to win the year 6 race at the inter-provincial cross country championships. This was probably due to the fact that I finally got my first pair of running spikes prior to this race, so was no longer slipping over everywhere! After winning that race, I decided to start taking running a bit more seriously.
I was always enjoyed playing sports as a kid. I participated in Surf lifesaving, swimming, netball, running… you name it! I loved competing in the running races at primary school and soon discovered that I was actually quite good at running. Although I was only year 3 at the time, I had supportive teachers at primary school that encouraged me to trial with the year 4 students for the Eastern Zones cross country event. I exceeded my expectations by making it past Eastern Zones and into the Inter Zones event with schools from throughout Wellington taking part. Although I got absolutely annihilated in the race at Inter Zones, placing towards the back of the pack, it was my first real taste of competition. This experience motivated me to do better the following year when I would be competing in the correct age group.
Juggling four sports was very time consuming, so in my first year at college, I made the choice to give up swimming and surf lifesaving in order to focus more on running. I was rather happy to give up swimming because I hated getting up at 5:30am for morning training and had used every excuse possible to get out of doing them. Now I have Alastair Leslie, my wonderful coach, who to customises a training plan for me each week. It usually consists of 3 interval sessions (usually at Newtown track), 3 longer runs and 1 gym session.
Last year I was selected to represent New Zealand at the Australian Cross Country Champs in Queensland. Training was going really well, however, less than 5 weeks before my race in Australia, I tripped over a tree root on a training run. Originally, I thought I had just rolled my ankle and had nothing to worry about. However, after it swelled up to the size of a tennis ball, I knew it was bad. I remember arriving in the car park outside my first physio trip for my injury and having to be wheeled in a wheelchair to the physio because it was too sore to even hop on. At this stage, I had lost all hope in being able to compete in Australia. I found out that I had ruptured a ligament in my ankle, but fortunately was still able to be mobile in a moon boot and cross train to maintain some fitness while my ankle was healing. Wellington Sports Med helped me hugely throughout this stage, not only with the rehabilitation and strengthening of my ankle but also with their positivity and belief that I would be able to race in Australia. Two weeks later, I took my first running steps, and a week after that, I was back into almost full running training. Although the lead up to my race in Australia wasn’t ideal, I managed to place 3rd in the U18 race.
Now, I have been selected to represent New Zealand in the Junior Women’s 6km team’s race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. I am very excited to experience racing against the best junior cross country runners from all over the world! Part of my preparation for this event will involve competing at the NZ Track and Field Championships in Christchurch in early March, where I will compete in the U20 5000m race. This event will be a good way to test my fitness ahead of the 6km cross country race in Denmark.