Rae hoping for a big effort in cross-country

Podium: Kirstie Rae has established herself as one of the bright young hopes of Wellington cross-country running.

Photo: MASANORIUDAGAWA

Seatoun athlete Kirstie Rae is looking to get one up on Wellington team-mate Phoebe McKnight in the 3.4km cross-country inter-regionals at Hanmer Springs on September 25.

Unlike track running, there is no national cross-country champs until runners attend secondary school, so the inter-regionals is the top race of the year for younger runners.

‘‘Most people treat inter-regionals like nationals,’’ said Rae, 12.

Rae, 12, was the top Wellington qualifier in the regional champs.

She has won all three of the Athletics Wellington children’s crosscountry events so far this season.

She also beat her Upper Hutt rival McKnight, 13, six weeks ago at the school cross-country regionals.

But at the 4km Wellington Dorne Cup earlier in the year, Rae was second to McKnight, and also came second to her at last year’s regionals in Nelson.

No one has beaten both McKnight and Rae at inter-regionals – but they have beaten each other, after Rae won her first inter-regionals as a 10-year-old.

To run in that event, she had to join a harriers club, and it was then she became a member of the Wellington Harriers Athletics Club under her current coach, Geoff Henry.

Rae said she thought the Hanmer Springs event would be keenly contested. Against runners from Wellington to Otago, Rae wants not only a podium finish but to head off McKnight on the long and hilly course.

‘‘I just want to get top two – it would be nice to beat Phoebe. We’d probably be pretty close,’’ she said.

‘‘I can probably beat her on the flat, but she is better on the hills.’’ After returning from Hanmer Springs, Rae will take a break, before preparing for her first secondary schools nationals early next year.