The 2018 Oceania Cross Country Championships were held in conjunction with the Australian Cross Country Champions over the weekend (25/08/2018). There were over 1,200 athletes that competed in the various classifications and distances.
The Oceania Championships where contested in the Under 18, Under 20 and Senior divisions. There were 7 Federations represented across 6 different races.
Fiji was represented by Ana Cowley and Avikash Lal.
Lal has been Fiji’s dominant distance and road race runner in for the past 2-3 years. Winning most of the 5km, 10km and half marathon organized races and was Fiji’s silver medalist in the 5km at the recent 2017 Mini Pacific Games. He has been Fiji’s lone representative to various cross country championships both regionally and internationally.
Coming into the competition, Lal had a personal best of 35:34.00s which he clocked at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and due to the tough terrain, he (Lal) ran 3 minutes slower (38:34.00s) and finished 32nd overall.
According to Oceania Athletics, there course barely had flat grounds and was particularly tough for the Pacific Island contingent who had little experience with hills. Conditions were perfect with the predicted rain holding off until the evening. Even Australian Olympian Madeline Hills agreed that the course was difficult.
“Very very tough course, we heard it was going to be hilly and I don’t think there was anyone that turned up here today that wasn’t surprised and terrified. So yeah it was tough.”
Fiji’s female representative and national record holder in the marathon Ana Cowley started off well in the race but then again was affected by the tough terrain and cold conditions that she wasn’t able to finish.
Story by: Oceania Athletics (27/08/2018) Athletics Fiji (28/08/2018)