News Items


LEITH HARRIER & ATHLETIC CLUB AGM, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Tuesday 16 April 2024

Caledonian Ground, Logan Park Drive, Dunedin in the Function Room, 2nd Floor

Meeting Summary

There was a fantastic turnout of the Leith community to the club’s AGM. Highlights were Lydia’s innovative presentation “The Three Peaks of Leith”, Chris Sole’s “A Unifying Thread”, MOC Rachael McKinney’s efficient running of the show, Margaret Knox’s excellent representation of the Life Membership awards to Chris Sole & Marc Boulle, Treasurer Greg Johnston’s professionally delivered Annual Financial Report, Sebastian Sole’s behind the scenes IT wizardry, Mark O’Neill’s sound and video expertise, Steve Tripp’s 3 Peaks review, Chris Bisley’s Ultra Trail reflections, Claudia Sole’s Women’s Highlights, Sandor Toth’s excellent children’s athletic report, Siobhan McKinlay’s and Claudia’s catering. Everyone had a great time with many volunteering to be on the general committee

“Three Peaks of Leith” by presented by Lydia Pattillo

It’s fair to say Leith had a pretty successful year but how did we do it, how did we buck the trend, and what were the ingredients for our success?
Leith, we are synonymous with the Three Peaks Mountain race – three peaks to conquer all, but what if we look at the year that was in a different way. What if we look at the peaks from a different perspective.
In the past year you could say Leith peaked – we stood out above the rest. There was a mountain range of ways in which we peaked, but what were our best – what were our three peaks? And how do these three peaks contribute to the success of our runners and our club.
So, I thought let’s use the Three Peaks Mountain Race as an analogy to show just that.

The first peak, Flagstaff; the peak of Community
The first peak of the race is the climb to Flagstaff. We start at Woodhaugh with all walks of life – a community of runners ready for the challenge ahead. There’s fast ones, slow ones, big ones, small ones, loud ones, quiet ones, experienced ones and novice ones. The atmosphere is electric.
Leith created this community. Everyone is welcome. Everyone has a sense of belonging. We’re in it together. The fastest runners will ride the same rollercoaster of emotion and exertion as the slowest – sounds a bit like a Sole Tuesday doesn’t it!
If we were worried we were too slow, in this community we are not. If we were worried we didn’t fit in or look the part, in this community we all have our quirks and we all look a bit silly.
It’s the shared passion that binds us. “It’s often the case in the small world of running – you share a rather extreme passion; and that quickly turns into a bond of trust. That trust is so great, you invite the other runners to take on huge and unknown challenges with you” – just like that! (adapted from In the Spell of the Barkley, Michiel Panhuysen)
Our cups are so full… aid stations be damned!
Community, it is the founding peak of everything Leith do. And from it more peaks will rise.

The second peak, Swampy Summit; the peak of Direction
As a runner makes their way to Swampy Summit, it’s likely they won’t make it in a great state without direction. Not so much direction of where they’re going, that’s fairly obvious, but direction in what they are here for, what they wish to achieve and what they know they are capable of.
“Direction is so much more important than speed, many are going nowhere fast” ~unknown. Leith runners know this – the vision of Leith has instilled this in us, we run with heart, but we also run smart. This section of the race is where the tortoise and the hare come to play.
But let’s bring direction a step even further….
Taking direction from the individual to a much wider lens we can see that Leith have a clear direction above he rest. In a time where sports clubs nationwide are facing falling numbers, Leith are bucking the trend.
It is not our marketing, we are not offering discounts, promises or materialistic items. It is our direction. I came into the Leith committee when numbers were low. My sport was dying. I felt I had to increase numbers. Back to how it used to be… and quickly.
But like where many sporting clubs go wrong, I lacked direction, and I too was going nowhere fast with this approach.
Through the wisdom of Chris Sole and Steve Tripp mostly, but our committee as a whole, I was guided down a different path.
The direction of Leith is not for numbers – this is just a recent and fortunate by-product. Leith’s direction, from the words of Chris, is to “foster an inclusive running community which encourages adventure, bravery and challenge. The development of wide-ranging leadership skills, personal confidence, infinite thinking and supporting one another. High performance is promoted by seeing potential in everyone”.
Being a part of this directive further enhances a runners ability within Leith. From a seed a garden will grow.
Several years ago, that seed was planted. Those of us who knew of it, watered it, sheltered it and cultivated it, the garden began to sprout, many did not notice, but this did not deter us. This year, however, without doubt our garden has been in bloom.
The garden of Leith leads us down the pathway to our final peak.

The final peak, Mt Cargill; the peak of Performance
Mt Cargill, the peak of performance, where it all comes together in a final push. A runner with Leith has a strong foundation of community and feeling of belonging. Their purposeful direction flows through them; they know their job; they know their worth…..all that’s left is to perform.
After Swampy, some of us run, but let’s be honest, most of us just roll down to Leith Valley, coming out of our mud bath to the welcoming sound of the Water of Leith. We know we’re close, our lungs are heaving, and quads are screaming!
But above the internal warfare we hear the distant sound of “woo, woo, woo!” we know who this is. We push on to Chris and cross the highway bridge for our final test. Chris fuels us, we need not his aid station, his enthusiasm and encouragement alone is enough. Perhaps Chris is the true “Water of Leith”.
Along with Chris, the Leith leadership have developed a recipe which brings out the best in our runners. Performance is the top of the pyramid, but it cannot be lifted to such heights without the foundations of community and direction.
Step by step we urge our body on, our peak of performance has arrived. And on the occasion, when the wind is blowing in the right direction, we can still hear Chris’s “woo woo woo!” as we reach the brow of our final peak.
So that’s how we did it, that’s how we peaked: Community, direction and performance.

So where to from here?….. Well, strap yourselves in folks, because we still have Three Peaks Plus One
So now my question to you: what is your plus one? What is your extra peak from the year? Leith has gifted us Community, Direction and Performance but what else have you, yourself conquered from the year that was.
For me, I think we all know my plus one will always be the Leith Lass community, I planted that seed a few years ago and by-golly it grows. In a club that once did not welcome women. A club that was, and I quote, “a club for fast men”. For a women’s running community to thrive – they said it couldn’t be done!
So, think about it again, what was your plus one? What did you achieve with the peaking ingredients of Leith, that you thought could not be done?
· Perhaps it was bravery in running your first ultra, marathon, half marathon or even just a ParkRun.
· Perhaps it was courage to join our running community or even just the courage to ‘give it a go’ and attend a Sole Tuesday or Leith Harbour Free
· Perhaps it was discipline to achieve that PB that dangled over you like an elusive carrot
· Heck, perhaps it was just the perseverance to finally qualifying for Crush the Cargill
Whatever it was, bring that peak with you into the year ahead, this is your plus one.
In the wise words of Miley Cyrus “there’s always gonna be another mountain”. We all have our own mountains within us, our own peaks to share. And for that reason, from whatever perspective you take, Leith is and will always be so much more than “just Three Peaks”

Our New Leith General Committee

Chris Sole President, Greg Johnston (Treasurer), Rachel McKinney (Secretary), Claudia Sole and Florence Reynolds (club captains) are among those who have been voted on to serve another year in these positions as well as number of keen new members. We will have a full list here once the minutes are finalised.  Well done to all these keen Leithians! 


Steve Tripp wins the 2023 University of Otago Innovation in Sport Award

We at Leith are immensely proud and stoked for Steve

Immensely proud and stoked for Steve Tripp, taking home the University of Otago Innovation in Sport Award at the Otago Sports Awards this evening. The award is thoroughly deserved in recognition of the huge amount of mahi Steve puts into our Dunedin running community and the unique events he facilitated for us all to enjoy. Ka pai te mahi Steve

Sports Awards Video Link

Watch the video of Steve’s Achievement

Steve’s acceptance speech in writing

Thanks to Otago Sports Awards. Thanks also to University of Otago. I never expected this. I got into trail running for my own mental and physical wellbeing but very quickly found a like-minded community of people who love adventure, exploring and pushing the boundaries. I love the community. I also love getting out there and seeing nature in all its wild and unpredictable beauty.
To keep getting out there I need to keep training and sometimes, as many of you know, training can get monotonous. So I sit around in the pub with mates and think of ways to make training fun. It started with Crush the Cargill 24 Hour Challenge and now it’s lead to this. Who would have thought that sitting around in the Inch Bar could be so productive?
It’s really awesome to get the recognition of this award. It’s also really awesome to see trail running get the recognition. I take this on behalf of the trail running community and event directors and those that have come before me.
There are giants… and then there are those who get to stand on their shoulders. Sometimes it’s only those who stand on shoulders who get noticed. I am one of them. I want to acknowledge a few of the ‘giants’ in trail running who have directly inspired and supported me in what I do in trail running in Otago.
Leith Harrier and Athletic Club have been organizing 3 Peaks Mountain Race for many years. It’s not a conventional athletics event but Leith have made it their baby. I feel incredibly proud and humbled that they have trusted me to help them look after that baby! 3 Peaks isn’t something I could ever do on my own. There’s an army of volunteers. Thanks especially to Siobhan, Gaya and Mark especially for the work you do in making it happen.
Chris Sole, the president of Leith Harriers, has kept me putting one step in front of the other. As a physiotherapist he’s kept me relatively unbroken so I can keep running and exploring. His enthusiasm and encouragement of anyone that wants to try running in or out of shoes has been something I’ve admired and it’s also kept me extending myself and dreaming. You are a wonderful statesperson for running in Dunedin, Chris. Thank you.
Ed Stevens was one of the previous Race Directors of 3 Peaks. Between that and a handful of other challenging races he put on, he went before me in putting Dunedin on the trail running map. He is a giant that has gone before!
Terry Davis of Highland Events was partners with Ed until Ed died a few years ago. Terry is an inspiration. I’ve just run the Mt Difficulty Ascent which is one of his babies. I’ve done the race 8 times but while climbing off-trail up 50% gradient mountain sides and descending even steeper rocky outcrops I still wonder at the kind of mad genius that would put a race over such terrain. Terry, you are a giant! I’m still trying to channel my inner Terry.
Malcolm and Sally Law are also giants. Since getting to know you when I joined you on a hill or two in 2017 I’ve appreciated your passion for trail running and community. The Wild Things trail running club you created from thin air is an epic beast – and a great way to keep our marketing costs down.
Special thanks to Chris Taylor. My good mate and Inch Events business partner is always keen to dream and collaborate on a new idea. Nothing seems to be off the table. Some of our ideas are really bad. It’s still fun – and somehow it just makes the good ones even better!
Huge thanks also to my best friend and life partner, Wendy. You put up with the sleepless nights when an event is approaching. You put up with my alarm at any hour of the night as I go out for a training run. You put up with (mostly) my piles of stinking shoes and constantly dirty car. Love you.
Thanks also to all those who help out and keep turning up to our events. I love this community – there are those that make memes, take photos, design shirts, stand on trail corners in fancy dress, share their pizza, help someone they just met change their socks or just enthusiastically come along to an event in the rain with minimal prizes and no glory.
I really do believe that Dunedin is the best city in New Zealand for trail running. I want to make this city a destination for trail running and I want trail running to be fun and inclusive.
We will keep on sharing the joy. Keep coming along for the ride!


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.