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6th in Chiba Ekiden

Chiba Ekiden 2013

Chiba Ekiden 2013

JAPAN Ekiden Relay, Chiba – 23 November 2012
New Zealand finished a creditable sixth in the international relay staged over the marathon distance of 42.195km.

The six-person team had its highest place finish and fastest time in the seven years since the format was changed to a mixed team in 2007.

After solid runs from Nick Willis, eighth fastest on the 5km lap 1 in 14:11 and Lucy van Dalen, fourth fastest on the 5km lap two in 15:43, the Kiwis sat in sixth place.

Zane Robertson was in top form on the third stage of 10km which he cut out in 28:04, for fastest lap honours, to bring New Zealand up to second place behind Kenya. Robertson set a new lap record and equalled the New Zealand 10km road running record held by Jono Wyatt set at Chiba in 1996.

The performance later earned Robertson the MVP award for the event across all teams.

With the team holding second place, Holly van Dalen took over and ran 16:41 for eighth place on the lap, but more importantly, only allowed the Japanese team past, finishing the leg with New Zealand in third place.

New Zealand Cross Country and Road champion Malcolm Hicks ran the fifth leg of 10km, producing the fifth fastest lap, with the Russians and Japan University teams moving past the Kiwis.

Nikki McFadzien fought bravely to maintain the team’s fifth placing, but the USA team squeezed past within the last kilometre.

It was a satisfying result for New Zealand, finishing just 1:44 behind the second placed Japanese team and heading off teams of the quality of Germany, Canada, Australia and France.

Daniel Balchin, the men’s back-up runner won the 5000m track race for the team reserves, recording a huge PB of 13:57.26 while Rachel Kingsford placed fifth in the women’s reserve race in 16:47.42.

Kenya led throughout finishing in a course record of 2:03:59.

New Zealand team results:
Nick Willis 5km, 14:11  8th
Lucy Van Dalen 5km, 15:43  4th
Zane Robertson 10km, 28:04  1st
Holly Van Dalen 5km, 16:41  8th
Malcolm Hicks 10km, 29:42  5th
Nicki McFadzien 7.195km, 24:36  8th
Total time 2:08:57  6th