Nelson runners leave turtles behind at Queen Charlotte Relay

Athletics Nelson had the youngest and fastest runners at Saturday’s New Zealand Road Relay, and they were on the same team.
Athletics Nelson Junior Men’s Team with an average of 16 blitzed into the lead, 500m into the second leg of the 35.6km, five-leg relay race from Picton to Havelock and went on to win by almost 13 ½ minutes in 2hr3min20sec. It was likely the largest margin of victory in race history.
Athletics Nelson Junior Women’s team was the first women’s team across the line in 2hr39min49sec. That team had an average age of 15 and included Iris Meffan, Lucy Martin, Sophie Smith, Heidi Stephens, and Lois Breukel.
Janek Manderson propelled the Athletic Nelson juniors into second place on the opening 5.1km leg. Fletcher Pickworth quickly erased the 42-second and opened a six-minute gap after his 8.7km leg. Luke Clatworthy, Matt Bowen, and Ben Baker poured it on the final three legs. The team was so far ahead on the fourth leg that their team’s coach joked, “We could run a turtle on the last leg and still win it.”
The tortoises who followed included Old Eggs for Fast Legs, a team of Athletics Nelson over 60 year olds who won the Vet Men’s race in 2hr32min11sec, and Vet women’s winner Waimea Harriers in 2hr42min34sec.  Speedplay Green Stripes won the senior women’s race in 2hr43min37sec.
Full results can be found at

(Ben Baker anchored Athletics Nelson’s Junior Men’s Team to a commanding victory at the Queen Charlotte Relay)

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