Relay team defend junior title
The Auckland City Athletics Club’s women’s under-19 road relay team are queens of the highway for the second year running.
Esther Keown, 16, her sister Annie, 17, Breeanna Potter, 18, Charlotte Laurent, 16, Bridget Lenting, 19, and Riah Mildenhall, 15, won the New Zealand junior road relay title in Mosgiel earlier this month.
The women, who won last year, conquered the 43.4km course in 2 hours 58 minutes, about three minutes ahead of nearest rivals Pakuranga.
Esther had a huge amount of responsibility on her shoulders after she was asked to run the final leg of the race.
But she says the team were confident of coming away with victory, although they knew it would be tight.
“I knew the other two girls were close behind us, so I went really super fast.
“Our team have known each other for quite a while and know how we can run.”
Annie says a drive around the course the day before the race helped the team decide which leg each girl would run.
“You’ve got to play to people’s strengths. It’s a whole team effort.”
After running the second leg Annie had a nervous wait to find out whether her sister could bring home the title.
“My confidence went up and down. At times we weren’t winning and other times we were being caught,” she says.
“You want to put your strongest runner at the end just to make sure of the result.”
Team manager John Mildenhall says it’s a fantastic result for the girls after months of hard work.
“The club is immensely proud of what they have achieved because this is a team on the rebuild after their win last year, with several new faces.”
The club’s senior women’s side narrowly missed out on mirroring their junior counterparts, coming second in their race.
The Auckland City Athletics Club bases itself at Cornwall Park in winter and Mt Smart Stadium in summer.
Road runners: The Auckland City Athletics Club junior women’s team took out the junior road relay title in Mosgiel. From left: Esther Keown, 16, Breeanna Potter, 18, Annie Keown, 17, Charlotte Laurent, 16, Bridget Lenting, 19, and Riah Mildenhall, 15.