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Source: Athletics New Zealand

“For many, regular running has been an important part of their lives since lockdown, and as Kiwi’s we love a bit of friendly competition, so why not sign up and see where you rank nationally, or secure a fantastic prize!” said Hamish Meacheam, Community Manager, Athletics New Zealand.
“These events are not just for experienced runners, athletes from all sports are encouraged to get involved and pit themselves against the best from the New Zealand athletics community. We’re especially excited to have partnered with Secondary School Sport NZ, and University and Tertiary Sport NZ to facilitate inter-school and University Competition.”
After a trial virtual mountain running challenge earlier this month hosted on Strava, joined by over 750 runners, the first of the National Virtual Champs is the 5km event, which runs until May 3. Runners have three weeks to record and submit their three best 5km run times to the online entry portal, with regular leader board updates allowing participants to see the time to beat. 
Currently leading the Virtual 5k women’s and men’s divisions are 2018 Commonwealth Games representative Camille Buscomb (Hamilton City Hawks) and 2019 World Cross Country Champs representative Toby Gualter (Olympic Harrier & Athletic Club, Wellington).
The National Virtual Champs events are free to join and open to anyone aged 13 and over.
Following the Virtual 5K Champs is an Ekiden team relay in May and a 10km and 1km event in June. For anyone new to running there are training programmes provided to help people gradually and safely improve their run skills and time.
Athletics NZ Chief Executive Peter Pfitzinger said the virtual running events are a way to bring people together through sport and encourage engagement while we are not able to be together physically.
“The combination of individual races and team challenges aims to replicate the friendly competition and club camaraderie we usually gain from our winter events. Challenge friends and family around the corner or on the other side of the country.”
Pete added that there are events rules which anyone taking part should review. “We want people to get involved but participate in a safe and sensible way. Run from home, stay in your neighbourhood, and train well within yourself,” added Pete.