McFadzien sets sights on national title
If national championships were given out to those most deserving, Nicki McFadzien would be a lock for today's national cross-country title in Hamilton.
She has achieved two second places at the event, last year to Danielle Trevis in the senior women and the year before in the under-19s.
McFadzien has also had to start a new coach-runner relationship in the past 18 months after her mentor of more than six years, Brian Taylor, died.
Taylor was the managing director at the King's Education language school in the CTV building and was killed when it collapsed in last February's earthquake.
McFadzien is now working with Sam McLean, but said a win today would be dedicated to her old coach. "He taught me so much and it would be great to get a win for him, to honour all the work we did together. But Sam's been great too, he's really supportive and amazing."
McFadzien isn't just a sentimental favourite for the national title in Hamilton, which will be fought for at Minogue Park, just a couple of hundred metres from the Chiefs-Sharks Super Rugby final.
Modesty prevents her from admitting it, but McFadzien is one of the runners to beat.
She finished 28th at the world junior championships two years ago, won the Canterbury championships a fortnight ago and says she is in great nick.
"I feel really good at the moment and it seems to be going really well. But you never know at nationals."
Playing into her hands is the weather.
After the recent downpours in the Waikato, the circuit for the women's 8000m race is expected to be sodden and soggy.
"Just the way I like it," McFadzien said. "The muddier the better."
The slower and tougher conditions do suit the Canterbury University student, but she also enjoys the mud, "just because it's more fun".
In the men's race, Canterbury has another shot at victory in Sam Wreford.
His recent running CV is impressive. The 29-year-old Timaruvian is the Canterbury cross-country champion, the Otago cross-country champion and the South Island cross-country champion. Add to that a Christchurch marathon title and he's having a golden season. The problem is, so is his main rival.
Kenyan Edwin Kaitany has been in New Zealand for the past six months training and racing and everything he touches turns to gold too.
While Wreford was winning the Christchurch marathon, Kaitany was winning the half. While Wreford was winning the South Island cross-country champs, Kaitany was winning the North Island equivalent.
The 21-year-old has won every race since arriving in New Zealand.
"He's very good," Wreford told The Press. "I think he's definitely the man to beat; for me he's a clear favourite."
Wreford singled out Hauraki Plains' Aaron Pulford as another to watch out for.
Papanui TOC H's Richard Bennett will compete in the men's 45-49 masters event and is a favourite for his fifth national title.
Canterbury has sent a 23-member junior team, including title favourite Rosa Flanagan.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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