Runners keeps top spots in the family
Michelle and Ellen van Looy have more than just blood in common.
The Tawa mother and daughter are off to Tauranga for the New Zealand road championships this week, after competing for Wellington in both the national and North Island cross country championships recently.
They are the sole mother daughter combination at nationals. Both are ranked in the top three in Wellington – Michelle is also inside the top 5 in New Zealand in the masters grade and Ellen in the top 15 in the under-18 division.
Despite the age gap, there’s a fierce rivalry between the two – at the recent cross country nationals there was less than a minute separating the pair.
Michelle ran 6k in 26m 41sec, with Ellen clocking 26m 13sec.
‘‘I’m 25 years older than her,’’ Michelle said. ‘‘ She tries to beat her mum.’’
‘‘She’s not beaten me over 5km yet,’’ Michelle said.
‘‘Yes, I have – I’ve beaten you over 6km,’’ Ellen retorted.
‘‘But not the 10km, and the marathon,’’ Michelle said.
You get the picture. It depends on the distance as to who comes ahead.
In a 2km race in 2011 there was just one second separating the pair.
At nationals in Tauranga it’s going to be hard to predict a winner between the two, but Michelle says if she is in front of Ellen, she will put it down to ‘‘experience’’.
‘‘We’ve never raced over 5km at the same time – it will be the first time we’ve raced together at nationals,’’ she said.
‘‘ We will probably come in together.’’
Despite the similarities, they both run for different clubs; Michelle for Olympic Harriers under long- term coach Chris Speakman, with Ellen recently having switched from Alistair Leslie at Olympic to be coached by her boyfriend’s father, William Twiss, at Scottish Harriers.
‘‘He’s a good training partner,’’ Ellen said of Twiss.
Michelle said her strong finish leads to high placings and is going to compete in the steeplechase event next season.
For Ellen, the indoor rockclimbing nationals are coming up and she also enjoys playing for the Tawa College 3rd XI football team.
Running: Tawa runners Michelle, left, and Ellen van Looy.