Aucklander digs in on last lap to claim title

Last updated 05:00 02/09/2013

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Malcolm Hicks overcame a strong challenge from Ben Ashkettle to win the national road title in Dunedin on Saturday, while Camille Buscomb was an easy winner in the women's race.

Held over a tight 2km circuit, Hicks, of Auckland, was content to stay with the pack over the first three laps. Going into the final lap, Hicks upped the pace and held off Ashkettle, by 2sec to win the 10km event in 30min 18sec. Daniel Balchin was third in 30:34, with Canterbury team-mate Callan Moody fourth in 30:41.

In only his third race this winter, Hicks said it was great to do the double.

"It's great to back up my cross-country title. It was a tactical race with a lot of corners with the pack all there with a lap to go," Hicks said.

Hicks said Ashkettle made a move in the race at the point that he was going to go.

"Ben went with 4km to go, so we ended up going just about the same time and I just pushed it from there. We came back across the bridge on the last lap and I kept checking over my shoulder every 10 metres and I was slowly pulling away, so I made sure I had enough for the last 150 metres in case I needed it.

"It was a great race by the guys; everyone had a go in the front and took the wind for a lap or so," Hicks said.

In his first national road championship, Ashkettle, who is based in Melbourne, wasn't sure how he was going to go.

"I was happy to sit back and then make a move at 6km, but I didn't feel that great, to be honest, so I was happy to let the guys get back in again and settle back into the pack," Ashkettle said.

"Malcolm took off going into the last lap. It wasn't any real big change of pace but it slowly was getting faster and faster and I wasn't able to go with him."

Auckland won the teams title, scoring the same points as Canterbury, but Auckland's sixth runner finished ahead of Canterbury's sixth runner.

Buscomb (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) was on her own throughout the senior women's 10km run in conjunction with the senior men. In a virtual time trial, she recorded 34:22 to beat Georgie Grgec (Auckland) by 42sec. Sally Gibbs (Waikato-Bay of Plenty), who had won the earlier women's masters 5km in 17:17, was third in 35:19, breaking Bernie Portenski's New Zealand masters W50 10km record of 38:24 set in 2004.

Buscomb, who has won the national 3000m track title for the past two years, said it was hard work.

"It was hard out there; it was really windy and lots of loops. It wasn't a nice easy 2km loop, it was intense, and I had to keep focusing the whole way. It was a physical and mental effort," Buscomb said.

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"I would have liked to have run a little bit faster, but I'm really happy to get the title," she added.

Auckland won the teams title ahead of Wellington.

Canterbury athletes Ben Musson and Matt Prest won the men's junior and youth races respectively, while Sian English was a popular Otago winner of the junior women's race, and Alana Sherman, of Auckland, was a surprise women's youth race winner.

Richard Bennett, of Canterbury, continued to impress in the men's masters, the 48-year-old winning the 10km outright in 32:49.

Mike Morresey, of Taranaki, won his first national race walking title and went under 50 minutes for the first time in the senior 10km race walk, recording 49:30.

Kate Newitt, of Canterbury, on a comeback after an absence of a couple of years, won the senior women's 10km race walk in 52:28.

- The Southland Times

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