Ryan running for NZ
If you spot a figure running on the hills above Paekakariki Hill Rd in the coming weeks, chances are it’s Ryan McAlister.
The 18- year- old has been included in the New Zealand team to contest the world mountain running championships in Italy in September.
McAlister won the junior section of the national mountain running championships in Motueka in April, an event he entered just to ‘‘give it a go’’.
He has the pedigree. McAlister was the Wellington cross-country champion for the past two years and a proven performer for Wellington Harriers, so excelling at mountain running was no big surprise.
It still came as a pleasant shock, however, to be picked for the world champs.
‘‘ I was coming off a track season and it was something I thought I’d try. I do plenty of training for cross- country around Battle Hill so I’m pretty used to it. You just have to learn to pace yourself and not get psyched out when you turn a corner and see another hill in front of you.’’
McAlister is in his first year of a bachelor of sports and exercise at Massey University, in Palmerston North.
The flat terrain there does not provide ideal mountain training, so he will be doing plenty of runs near the family home during his term break. Mum’s home cooking will have to take a back seat, as he has one eye on Italy.
With legend of the sport Jonathan Wyatt the coach for the worlds, McAlister has the best backing he could ask for.
‘‘He’s been there and done that, so anything I can learn from him will be a bonus.
It will be an amazing experience and I see it as a great opportunity. I want to finish in the top 16, so I’m pretty committed to putting in the work now. I’m out there in the mud every day.’’
Cross- country – his forte since his Pauatahanui School days – will provide the bulk of the training, with North Island and national events coming up. He will look to take a third straight Wellington under-19 title on July 14, near Waikanae.
Running man: Ryan McAlister faces more than one uphill battle to get to the world mountain running champs in Italy in September. The trip costs $5000, so he’s looking for funding.