News Items


Athletics Otago Awards for 2021/2022, Friday 6 May 2022

Otago Polytechnic Hub, Forth Street, Dunedin

Chris Sole awarded the prestigious Sport Otago Trophy

Leith members turned up in numbers to see Club President Chris Sole being awarded this prestigious trophy which recognises a person’s significant contribution to athletics in Otago.  You could see the emotion on Chris’s face when he received this award as he was unaware that he was going to be presented with it.  This was a well earned award for someone who contributes day in day out to the sport of athletics and has for many years.  So we at Leith Athletics congratulate Chris on this achievement and we thank Athletics Otago for recognising the amount of time and effort he devotes to the sport in Otago.  

Chris is a true asset to the Dunedin running community

by Margaret Knox

Chris is a true asset to the Dunedin running community, his infectious enthusiasm is hard to ignore and the time and passion he puts into the sport is something to behold.

Over the past year he has contributed in so many ways to our sport. He is Leith Club President and coach. Throughout the year Chris has sent out detailed newsletters summarizing the achievements of runners at various events over the previous week, as well as including some inspirational quotes / texts / livestreams from runners around the world and outlining the training sessions / runs for the forthcoming week.

In the words of Andrew Lonie “Chris’s training sessions bring to mind clear but piercingly cold nights at Logan Park with him wearing two less layers than everyone else, an ear-to-ear grin as he introduces the session with: it’s a beautiful evening champions, the sun is shining. It’s pitch black, so he seems to be referring to South Africa time and temperatures!”

Over the past year Chris’s training sessions have grown with usually somewhere between 20 and 40 people running. The group includes not only Leith athletes but runners from other clubs and many runners not in clubs attend the sessions simply for the love of it.

When Chris leads a training session, a run or an event, the conditions are always ‘just perfect’, all runners are encouraged to give their best and all leave feeling like champions.

Those involved in track and field will know Chris as the person who stands outside the track at the 200m most weekends throughout the summer season yelling support to the runners as they run by.
Chris has been the driving force behind the Leith Harbour Free 5km and 10km events held twice monthly – events put on for the wider running community to participate in. Over 400 people have competed in one or more of these events since they started. Chris is always in attendance at these events helping in some way and offering encouragement to all runners.

In addition to this Chris puts a lot of work into the Leith Cross Country Relays and Three Peaks races. He spent hours during the weeks prior to Three Peaks clearing the tracks so that the competitors had the best course possible to run over. He marked out much of the course in the days before the race and then on race day manned the Leith Valley water station all day with the help of other family members.

Chris spends many hours emailing out details of events and contacting people personally to encourage them to enter events. He wants others to experience the joy of running like he does. He loves to get people involved in team events like Lovelock Relays, Leith Cross Country Relays and the Peninsula Relay.

Chris is a master at connecting people, has a vision of as many people as possible experiencing the joy of running and gives so much of his time and effort to his running club and community every day. 

Chris you are a true inspiration to us all and are a worthy winner of the 2022 Athletics Otago Contribution to Athletics award.

Leith Members receive Athletics NZ Long Service Awards

It was fantastic to see Leith members Kevin Blair, Alan Funnell and Marc Boullé receiving the Athletics New Zealand Long Service Awards (as seen in photo collage).  They have all been involved in the sport of athletics in Otago either at club level, centre level or at national level for many years with Leith Life Member and Club Patron Kevin Blair having been involved for over 50 years.  Life Member and former President of Leith, Alan Funnell was also the Three Peaks Mountain Race director for many years  and was a Leith delegate to Athletic Otago Centre.  Marc Boullé has been a Leith Club committee member in various positions for around 25 years and has been a track and field official for many years.

We bade farewell to Tadhg Ryan Charleton

Monday, 19 July 2021

Tadhg Ryan Charlton, who sadly leaves this week to return to his homeland, Ireland and a new University in Belfast, completed a year in Leith Colours. His first race, the 2020 Otago XC Champs, he finished 12th in 40:50.  And yesterday, Sunday, in his last race the Otago XC Champs and on the same course he finished in 38: 30.3.  All the best Tadhg, and may your Research and running continue to flourish. We will miss you indeed and thank you for your contribution Leading, Training, Participating and inspiring others. Tadhg hands over the Leith Men’s Captain tag to the very capable Richard Campbell, who helped the MM35-49 Team win at the Otago XC Champs on Sunday.


Southern Field Days Site, Waimumu Road, Gore

We thank Southland Harriers for inviting us to participate in the Southland Cross Country Champs
A traditional Cross Country Run with flats, hills, forestry, creeks and mud!
Distances from 3km for Juniors to 9km for Open and Master Runners

Leith Athletes participated in this awesome cross country event.

Janus Staufenberg led from start to finish in a fantastic display of cross country running. He was first across the line in 34.16mins. Don Bate said it was one of the best cross country courses he had run on and we must definitely get our club members to compete in this event – a bus load of Leith athletes. 

Check out Don Bate’s report >> Southland Cross Country Champs 2021 

Harjinder Singh Chander successfully climbs Mt Everest (up and down Baldwin Street 139 times), Sat 5 June 2021

Check the ODT reports below on Harjinder’s effort to raise awareness of mental health issues, particularly among farmers

Like climbing Mt Everest for mental health >> ODT Online News Article, Monday, 7 June 2021, by John Gibb

Steep effort for mental health >> ODT Online News Preview Article, Wednesday, 2 June 2021, by John Lewis

Starting at 5.30am on the Saturday, Harjinder initially ran the equivalent of a marathon (up and down 57 times) but then feeling good, he successfully climbed Mt Everest (up and down 134 times, in fact he did a little extra – 139 times in 28 hours and 25 minutes) finishing by 9.30am on the Sunday.

Congratulations to “Harrie” on this magnificent achievement. Thanks to all those who gave him support and encouragement.