“I was always that skinny kid who could run,” Murdoch McIntyre responds when asked where he discovered his passion for running.
The Year 12 student at Westlake Boys’ High School is the owner of four gold medals at the National Secondary Schools Championships and recently won a silver medal with the six-man Westlake team at the ISF World Cross Country Championships in Paris. The French success was the best part of a year in the making.
“We qualified in June by winning the National Secondary Schools title. We had to do a decent amount of fundraising to get to France as it cost us six grand each to go, but the school was hugely supportive and we raised the money with little stress,” McIntyre reveals.
In fact the most stressful decision in the buildup was who would replace Joseph Clark, a New Zealand cross country representative, who had left school.
“Losing Joe was a big blow because he was one of the quicker guys in the team, but we had five or six guys who were capable of stepping up and eventually Blair Hill was picked,” McIntyre explains.
Westlake spent a week preparing in London. The jogs around Hyde Park weren’t relished.
“It was freezing, no more than two degrees most days. It toughened us up for sure,” McIntyre complains.
Fortunately conditions were much warmer in Paris, but the track wasn’t a typical cross country course.
“The race was held in the heart of Paris. There was no grass or mud, we ran past the Eiffel Tower which was awesome, but a little different from normal,” McIntyre says.
The race was attended by the French Minister of Sports Laura Flessel and Education Jean-Michel Blanquer. Additionally former Olympic and World champion Hicham El Guerrouj was present and later shared a photograph with the Westlake team.
The field featured 600 athletes from 34 countries along with a crowd of more than 5000 and 300 volunteers.
“We wanted to run our best and if we did that we would have been satisfied with the result no matter where we finished. It’s hard to know what to expect at these events,” McIntyre admits.
The race was held over 5,300m and the finishes of the top four runners are used to calculate the overall team result. Istvan Palkovits from Hungary was the individual champion and Morocco the team champion.
“Sometimes you get a field and conditions which favour you and that’s what we got. The boys were stoked with the result. Sacred Heart got second two years ago. I would love to have raced them. I think we're better,” McIntyre laughs.
McIntyre is hopeful of much more international travel in 2018. In May he’ll head to the Melanesian Regional Championships in Vanuatu to compete in the steeplechase with the hope of qualifying for the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October.
Westlake BHS - ISF World Cross Country Championships Results
5th: Murdoch McIntyre, 16:41
10th: David Moore, 16:57
13th: Stuart Hofmeyr, 17:01
21st: Daniel Robertson, 17:11
28th: Zach Keenan, 17:24
47th: Blair Hill, 18:03
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand