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Athletics in a COVID year: President's Report 2021

Updated: Jun 25

presented at the Owairaka Athletics AGM, Wednesday 14 April 2021

This last year has posed its obvious challenges. Repeated Lockdowns due to COVID-19 have made things very difficult for all of us. The committee has worked hard and been innovative in the way we have sought solutions for our various challenges.

Athletics New Zealand has acknowledged our efforts in this by showcasing the club.

Communication was a key part of our strategy to keep things on track during the lockdown periods, and this was profiled in the Athletics NZ newsletter.

Creative, agile thinking and regular communication have helped the historic Owairaka Athletics keep on track during the challenging lockdowns experienced in the Auckland region.
The club of coaching icon Arthur Lydiard and former Olympic champions and New Zealand track legends Sir Murray Halberg and Sir Peter Snell today boasts around 40 senior members and 150 juniors.
And no matter what specific obstacles the club has had to overcome, regular communication has been critical, according to club committee member Nick Moore.
“Telling members what is happening has been very important,” explains Nick. “We feed them the Athletics NZ information via Facebook and our group on Strava, remind people of the rules of the various alert levels and how it impacts on them. And we always strive to get that info as fast as possible.”

One of our Committee Dion O’Neale recently won a Prime Minister’s science award for his work in the fight against COVID in NZ. The gains we had made as a club in the year preceding COVID were somewhat reversed, however, our hope is with herd immunity on the horizon we will hopefully enjoy stability and a return to our growth phase with that security.

Adult Runners (Harriers)

2020-2021 was overall another successful year of development for the senior side of the club led by Nick and his team.

Adult Membership Got off to a slow start because of COVID uncertainty this time last year but trickled in through the year with a surge before road relays to somewhere close to 2019/20 levels. The inability to offer more flexible membership options continues to be frustrating as people start coming to training and we need to sign them up after a couple of weeks but they end up in a situation where they are waiting until the next financial year. Membership has started strongly already for the coming year.

Tuesday and Thursday Senior Training has continued throughout the year except when meeting was restricted, of course. Bazyl writes the plan. Nick circulates on Strava and Facebook. Numbers are growing over time and we are getting a diverse crowd with a critical mass that allows us to have pace groups. It continues to be a mixture of club members and Bazyl's private clients, competitive athletes and more socially orientated runners. We allow people to come a couple of times to try out before sending them an invitation to join the club and quite a few of the more social runners are joining or making noises about joining, which is great. There is a core group of people who come most times and a constantly shifting cast who come when they can. It is still dominated largely by men but we are getting some women along each time now so there is slow progress here. Bazyl's planning and management of this group has been superb all year and there is a strong sense of momentum as the squad gets stronger.


While we were not allowed to train as a group, Bazyl continued to circulate training plans and these were appreciated by membership. And we pushed the Athletics New Zealand Virtual Race Series.

Bethany Bromfield was 4th overall in the national 5k Virtual Champs series. Owairaka were 4th amongst national clubs based on participation.

Our team was 5th overall in the national Ekiden Champs only 1 minute behind the top Wellington Scottish team.

We also ran a series of night track races / time trials at a time when lockdown was over but no real events were happening and these were great for building some race fitness before cross country resumed. We did these on Saturday nights in the middle of winter. They were popular and are something to build on this year.

Cross Country and Road saw us have a full season of local cross country squeezed into a gap between lock downs which was a credit to the Athletics Auckland team. It felt like we were racing every weekend and these regular races over the winter are so valuable for athlete development in terms of learning to race and just getting some good hard race workouts in. Club participation and team spirit was strong throughout the season. Our masters teams dominated the teams event and Southland Centennial Shield and many of the individual races too. Bethany dominated the Senior Women's series and won the Auckland Champs title. Nick Moore and Simon Mace dominated the Vets races. Our younger men are growing increasingly competitive too. Unfortunately we were not able to travel to Dunedin for the nationals due to COVID rules at the time. The National 10k Road Champs were held in Auckland again at Bruce Pulman Park. Nick Moore, Keith Burrows were 1st and 2nd in the M45s and a number of Owai athletes represented the Auckland Centre,

Ultras-Keith Burrows and Andrew McDowall competed successfully in some very long events. Keith won the New Zealand 24 hour Track race. Outright. He ran 222km around the AUT Millennium Institute Track in 24 hours. He also managed 82k in 6 hours at the Lovelock Track in the New Zealand team for the IAU Solidarity 6 hour virtual run. This was the furthest of any of the New Zealand team. Andrew McDowall meanwhile came 2nd in the gruelling Northburn 100 Miler. running 100 Miles in 24:48:16. Both outstanding and mind blowingly awesome results.

The Road Relays in Feilding saw Owai Masters Mens teams (35-49 and 50s) both get silver medals beaten by Wellington Scottish in both races. Our Senior men's team ran better than expected and won the C grade but was then promoted to B grade and finished a very respectable mid table. Overall, the weekend was a resounding success. We returned to Auckland with 2 silver medals and the boat race trophy (!). Our focus this year needs to be on bringing a road relay title back from Takahe Akaroa and building a women's team for this event.

Track- Our Owai squads made track a bit more of a focus this summer with athletes competing locally at the McKinnon Shield Events, Auckland Track and Field Champs and nationally at the NZMA Track and Field Champs in Taranaki. For the first time, it feels like we are genuinely racing all year round and the athletes had heaps of fun with lots of athletes racing track for the first time. There were many individual highlights.

  • Ben Winder winning the Senior 1500m Auckland title at the Track and Field Champs as a Vet.

  • Nick Moore setting an M45s Auckland 3000m record.

  • Troy Harold 3rd in the 3000m and 5000m at the NZMA T & F Champs.

We also dominated the Auckland 5000m Champs with Michael Early, Aynekulu Jemberlie, Ben Winder, Claire Kenyon, Nick Moore and Pete Kenny all winning age group titles.

Bethany won a first Auckland title on the track - taking out the 10,000m.

Road Racing once again, Owai athletes competed around the country at 10k, half marathon and Marathon distances throughout the year with lots of success at Huntly Half Marathon, Auckland Half and Marathon, Keri Keri Half Marathon, Queenstown Marathon and Hawkes Bay. Locally we were competitive in the Run Auckland series and across Auckland's parkruns and O Hagans 5k run. Keri Keri was a real end of year highlight for quite a lot of the squad and it would be great to target this weekend as a club weekend away this year.

Our Events

King and Queen of the Mountain was postponed once because of COVID then cancelled when alert levels changed yet again and scuppered the rescheduled date.

Owai 5 Mile was a very successful event this year. Julian Ng was race director and did a superb job coordinating everything. We are very happy that he has committed again this year. Bethany Bromfield won the women's title and Cam Graves cleaned up in the men's race setting a new race record in the process. 24.03 for 5 miles will take some beating!

5k in the Park

With the success of the Owairaka parkrun and with many of our squad doing the O'Hagans 5k fun run in the Viaduct or training Tuesday and Thursday, sadly participation at the 5k in the Park event has dwindled away and we called an end to it earlier this year. Thank you Toni Munro for your years of service managing this event. You are fabulous and we are hugely appreciative of your volunteering efforts.


These competitive athletes are coached by Hamish Meacheam. We are very proud of their achievements and love it when we see them at the club on club nights. A goal for us as a club is to get some representation on our committee from this sector of the club. This year has been particularly challenging for this group of athletes.

  • Keegan Pitcher is currently focused on starting his teaching career in Hamilton.

  • Alyssa Baxter was admitted to the New Zealand Performance Development Squad, but unfortunately missed the season with some health issues.

  • Aiden Hogg competed at the Auckland Secondary School Champs, and won the 100m, 200m and Long Jump in personal best performances.

  • Kate Danaher had surgery on her foot, and has only just started back training.

We hope that Para athletes will continue to join the club and to be supported by Hammish into high performance success. !



Our junior winter runners squad led by Julie Collard and Kate Doherty and supported by parents and senior squad athletes met through the winter.

Last winter's cross country season Wednesday night training was well attended, between lockdowns. A number of runners competed in the Athletics Auckland winter series, but numbers were definitely down compared to previous years for those events. We are hoping for more consistent competition from this year's junior winter team. The new coaches are Nick and Dion with assistance from Kate.

This group really embodied many of the things the committee see as vital to the club’s future. We are ready to pursue sustainable growth for this group.


Halberg Squad Were busy and well supported led by Winona and Helene 2 high school students. These 2 young women gave up their time to be trained in the Athletics NZ programe Ready Set Go. Each week Winona and Helene organised the programme and instructed and inspired the children. Each week these little athletes were happy and learning and engaged. These 2 young woman are a credit to themselves, their families and the club, having both been with the club since they were primary aged themselves. We hope that there are parents from this age group who would be willing in the future to either lead or be involved with this squad.

Snell Squad This year in response to a lack of volunteer support we engaged Kelly Sport to coach the Snell squad through the Athletics NZ programme Run Jump Throw. These activities were generally well-received by the children and we received positive feedback from parents. Ideas around age group managers did not come to fruition but this is a great goal for next season. We are also hoping to encourage and engage a greater pool of volunteer coaches. This is a huge cost on the club and was one of the reason we have decided to increase our club fees for the coming season.

Lydiard Squad The younger Lydiard Squad members were coached by Julie, Nick, Dion and helped by Kerry. We started evenings with a rotation with a good range of athletics activities such as baton changing, hurdles and hammer throw balanced with fitness and strengthening. Running challenges were laid down by Nick and Dion to increase distance and to develop speed with intervals, surges and tempo runs. Nick and Dion both also gained their community Coaches accreditation.

Colgate Games

At this year’s North Island Colgate Games in Inglewood, Taranaki, five young athletes - our biggest team in many many years - proudly represented Owairaka Athletics, and came home with new friends, new experiences, PBs, a medal and some great memories. Well done Sol, Nina, Peggy, Marist & Platon. It was a great experience, we’d love to take an even bigger team to the Colgate Games in Wellington next year.


Peggy Taylor, 2nd in 400m at the NI Colgate Games, 1st in long jump and 2nd in 200m and 400m at the Auckland Junior Champs.

Nina Chalmers 4th 80m hurdles at NI Colgate Games, 2nd in U14 80m hurdles at Akl champs. 4th in junior girls hurdles and 1st in junior girls 4 x 100m relay at Central Eastern and Western Zone Auckland Secondary School Champs and Auckland Secondary Championship

Henry and Sol also did very well.

Lydiard squad - Seniors

This group continue to be inspired and nurtured by Murray Cumberpatch, whose professionalism and care is greatly appreciated. Going into winter they focused on repetitions and intensity training.

Our athletes achieved the following (sorry for any omissions:

  • Hudson: qualified and raced at Auckland Central East/West Zones in 100m. Completed 300 laps in 11 hours for Relay For Life

  • Sophia: Qualified and ran for Zones Long jump, 400m. Qualified and Ran at Auckland Champs for Long Jump, 400m, 4x400m relay.

  • Inara: Qualified and raced at Zones: 100m

  • Selena: Ran at Secondary School's champs in December, qualified to Semi Finals. Ran in Porritt Classic 100m and 200m, Women's mixed Auckland Relay team won 4x 100m. 2nd in 200m - Athletics Auckland Champs Qualified and Attended Athletics Nationals (sadly injury prevented competing) Ranked top 20 in 100m U20 Women's 100m. Competed in Sir Graeme Douglas and Daikin Night of 5s

  • Hugo and Selena represented the club at the McKinnon Shield events.

Club communications

Regular whole club newsletters sent to our community, as well as targeted comms to specific groups, incl weekly Facebook and Strava posts for senior runners, and WhatsApp posts for junior winter running. Regular social posts to engage our wider community - Facebook, Instagram, Strava - including live updates from events. Increasing volumes of messages across all channels - social, email, webchat - from people interested in the club. A highlight has been the increasing contributions from athletes (junior and senior) to our comms efforts this year, with race/event reports by Keith, Peggy, Nick, Jules, Simon, Tim & James published in our newsletter and on our website. We love hearing these perspectives and are keen to hear more - contributions welcome! Shout-out to all the photographers who have helped to showcase the best of Owai this year - in particular Anastasia’s awesome snaps of club nights have been a highlight. Thanks for this massive effort goes to Kate supported by Nick and many others.


Are going smoothly new purchases are electronic and through the website. We have a new supplier for junior Ts and singlets. Second hand uniforms are collected and shared with those who need them. We have a hoodie design ready to go for the winter.

We have been lucky to have our club logos and uniforms rebranded and we have been able to purchase a much needed and longed for gazebo.


Recently we sent out survey to our club members. We have only had a small response so far but what we have had has been very positive.

Park Users Meetings

I regularly attend park users meetings to contribute to the development plans for the park on behalf of the club. The plans are being presented very soon for the committee to consider.

Roskill Youth Zone

Has a new business plan which we contributed to and we hope to work with all of the users of this space positively and collaboratively in the future, to support the development of the local community.

Strategic Plan

Our long term our vision is for the Club to be:

A fun, family friendly community that reflects the diversity of Owairaka. Where athletes enjoy a supportive environment, which is connected to Athletics NZ best practice and supports both competitive excellence and fun.

We have 4 main foci to:

  1. Engage and reflect our community

  2. Grow our coaching capability

  3. Retain our athletes

  4. Link to the wider athletics system

The last year has been a huge challenge and we have looked to tread water and to survive the covid storm. All of our decisions are based in our vision and strategic plan and with hopefully increasing community stability we will be able to gain more traction in achieving our goals.

This coming year we expect the new committee to set SMART goals in each of these areas. Including setting up a scholarship fund, building our Competition Squad and building our coaching capacity.

We want a more diverse committee and I encourage anyone here keen to be involved to volunteer to be on the committee tonight.

It has been an honour to serve as the President with such a wonderful, hardworking, pragmatic, inspiring, flexible and easy going committee. I am really excited about the year ahead and proud of the progress we have made.

Thank you!

Thank you to all of the parents who got involved and helped.

Thank you to Mary and Steve Deakin Grandparents to the Goddards and Muschamps for our new rake and our new clapper Steve has made. They paid for most of the sausages and bread for our fundraising,

Thank you to Blair for cooking them.

Thank you to Sarah for her help in the clubrooms.

Thank you to Heidi sorting the clubrooms and equipment when community groups and schools need to use them.

Big thank you to people who have donated money and prizes through the year:

Yasha Agarwal sponsorship of prizes for the Owai 5 and helped to fund the purchase of the new club gazebo.

Dorothy Butler Children's Bookshop for prizes for the kids race at the Owai 5 and people.

And to our wonderful designers: Anastasia's posters and Emma McDowall's rebranding- Amazing! Thank you.

Thank you to the coaches that support the club, Hamish, Murray and Bazyl.

Thanks to Helene and Winona

And thank you to Toni for your many years of generous support. We trust it will continue.

Thanks to the Committee

My 5 month absence due to injury added to the pressure on the committee in this crazy year and I am so humbled by the hard work they have all put into nurturing our club.

Thank you to Julie, Kate, Selena, Nick, Pete, Dion and Kuldeep. Thank you for your service and thank you also for being willing to continue on the committee in this coming Athletics year.

Owairaka Athletics 2021 Committee


Natasha Muschamp


Peter Kenny


Julie Collard

Committee for 2021-22

Kate Doherty

Selena Gee

Nick Moore

Dion O’Neale

Kuldeep Singh

Nick Robinson

James Sanday

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