St Peter’s School, Cambridge student Charli Miller returned to class this week a national champion, having won the Girls Year 9 race at the National Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships in Rotorua on Saturday.
Charli, who is also the Year 9 Girls North Island 1,500m and 3,000m athletics track champion, won her 3km race in exactly 11.00 minutes, ahead of Briana Irving (Gisborne Girls’ High School) in 11.04 and Olivia Cummings (Otumoetai College) in 11.17.
Charli went into the race hoping to do well, after also winning the recent Waikato-Bay of Plenty Secondary School Cross Country title.
“Heading into the race I knew I had a chance to finish up the field, but I wasn’t too sure how it was going to go,” she said.
She credited her pre-race tactics for helping her win.
“Since this was my first national secondary school race, I concentrated more on trying to win rather than running to break a certain time.
“My plan was to try and stay behind the frontrunner for most of the race and then to kick off with about 300m to go using the downhill section, which worked really well for me.”
She benefited from having won the recent Waikato-Bay of Plenty race on the same course. “It definitely helped knowing what tactics to use, because I knew what parts would be good to take off on.”
Going by the times in the two races, her win would’ve also placed her third in the Junior Girls (U16) race over the same distance, which saw winner Hannah O’Connor (Sacred Heart, New Plymouth) in a league of her own in covering the 3km in 10.28.
On Sunday, Charli backed up the individual race win with a blistering run in the five x 2000m regional relays. Including the senior runners, Hannah was the fastest of all the girls, but Charli was second fastest. Charli’s Waikato-Bay of Plenty Year 9 team came second in their relay.
St Peter’s sent 30, mainly junior, athletes to Rotorua last weekend, out of a national total of over 950 competitors.
Lochie Montgomerie finished 10th in the Junior Boys race, running 30 seconds faster than the week before at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty race.
The rest of Charli’s teammates that made up the Year 9 girls team finished fifth in the 6-person team category. Their Junior Boys 6-person team finished 10th overall and our Junior Girls 3-person team 10th overall. Charli, Lochie and Monique Macdonald were selected in Sunday’s regional relay team.
As well as running, Charli is also a cyclist and plans on competing in the North Island Secondary Schools Cycling Championships and then later in the year the NZ Secondary Schools Duathlon Championships.
“I have done cycling for two years, which I use for cross training for running and also for duathlon and a bit of individual road racing.
She started duathlon last year and has recently started swimming to start competing in triathlons. She also plays left wing for the St Peter’s Junior A football team.
Then there’s the track running as well. “In summer I just focus on the track, I train more for the 1,500m and 3,000m events.” Last December she broke a 30 year old 1,500m record at the Waikato Intermediate Schools Championships.
Additionally, she’s a track hurdler. “That helps at the end of my longer races when I’m trying to out-sprint people, and also helps with the steeplechase which I want to get into when I get a bit older.”
As well as training and practicing, she concedes she’s getting busy. “I’m going to keep trying to do everything but as I get older or if I get more serious I feel like I am going to have to try and put some things on hold.”
Charli started running when she was young, winning her first inter-school primary school race in Year 4.
Charli thanked the people helping her. “I’d like to thank Tainui, which has given a lot of support for my running, my family, my coach John Tylden and also the St Peter’s Cross Country squad, which helped me with my training as well.”
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