Hey Niam!

Since you’re the most famous person to have come out of Feilding since Murray Ball, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me for an article for Scottish?

Not sure about famous and definitely not comparable to Murray Ball but I’d like to think with what I plan on achieving that I may be somewhere down the line…

Our plan is to build a bit of hype (are you allowed to use that word if you’re over 25?) around NZRR, and get people excited about running in Feilding! We’re also going to get in touch with some Palmy people to see what we can do while we are there for the weekend too.

Can certainly use the word hype! As soon as I heard that it was going to be in Feilding I was looking forward to having a good excuse to come home, see mum and be able to race. Really excited coming back to race where I grew up and to win in my hometown where it all started would be particularly special. A lot of people have come and gone in Scottish since NZRR was last hosted here (I would have been in primary) so a new race (for most,) course and atmosphere from the last few editions of NZRR is exciting in itself.

Before you joined Scottish you were with Fielding Moa Harriers. What did you like about the club?

More commonly referred to as simply ‘Moa’s’ comparable to how we say ‘Scottish,’ They are a great small town, family orientated club. I’ll always treasure my time with Moa’s. Hands down truly believe they have some of the best (toughest) XC courses in New Zealand. They would have to be some of the grittiest races I have ever done, only a muddy Grenada North comes close to the terrain and technicality of courses such as Banners and Woodruffes (these being referred to by the family name of the farm owners.)

Why is the Feilding Harrier’s club named after a 230kg 12 foot high flightless bird?

Had to ask Rob Dabb (organiser of this year’s race) to help me out with this one and he said: ‘When Feilding Harrier Club was formed in 1939 the committee wanted a NZ emblem that would distinguish the club from others – and with plenty of Kiwi’s already about they decided upon the Moa. Within a short time, members quickly became known as Moas, and that name eventually got incorporated into the present day club name of Feilding Moa Harrier Club.’ It seems fitting, as the Moa once roamed the land much like XC runners do too!

Banners XC
Doing battle with the mud!

Every town has a few colourful personalities, who should we meet when we go to Feilding?

Not sure Feilding is as colourful as Wellington so personalities are a bit harder to come by in a rural town of 16,000 people but there are definitely notable people. Aaron smith grew up here as well as the the Olympic bronze medalist Jesse Sergent and journalist Mihingarangi Forbes to name a few.  

Which speedy Moa’s runners should we look out for on course?

Two of the most promising current members, Benjamin Wall and Tessa Webb are highly competitive national level runners and have the potential to achieve real great things in future. Nick Johnston is also an accomplished runner and gave me a hard time at Woodruffes XC last year. The junior men’s team, having the same runners to choose from last year when they placed a competitive 4th should be real dark horses on home turf.

Thoughts on the course?

The course is great and has something for everyone. It will suit runners with real endurance and the ability to handle the changes of pace thrown up by the course which could be probably be best described as ‘rolling hills.’ It encompasses the Halcombe relays course annually run by Moa’s, so I definitely know which legs I’d prefer to run 😉 Being a loop course and having legs of roughly equal distance (for the long course) makes for great following. The roads in places are quite narrow although this is negated by having far less traffic than a course such as Takahe to Akaroa so shouldn’t be an issue. The last leg I’ve run many times over so would definitely put my hand up for that one!!

Best spot for a Sunday long run?

In all honesty I wouldn’t go for a Sunday long run in Feilding (not a town constructed with runners in mind to put it nicely.) Personally speaking I did all my long runs in Palmy where there are more off road options and for those foolish enough there is the Dam Block (Palmy’s equivalent of the Makara loop) as a tempting Sunday long run option. If I were to run in Feilding then I’d head to Kitchener park and do a North-South-East-West loop (which I wouldn’t consider long at 7.5km) but scenically encompasses the town perimeter.

When we aren’t running, what can we see and do in Feidling?

If you’re smart and beat the evening traffic you could see the Farmers market in the square or the sale yards which were once the biggest in the southern hemisphere! Feilding is also home to Manfeild and the Steam Rail Society. The Coach House Museum also has some quirky things to see and it wouldn’t be a small town without a token mini golf course to ignite your over-competitive streak. Feilding has all the takeout options for those who make the habit of not cooking pre-race (even have a noodle canteen for us healthier folk!) Also the Focal Point Cinema is nice though Scottish could completely book it out in their own right, recommended nonetheless.

Where should we hold the post-relays boat race this year?

Murray’s Irish Bar is your friendly, cozy small town local, without needing impeccable dress standards to enter for us sweaty, smelly runners. They offer all the standard drinks and some craft beers (but if you’re after a true variety for you particular folk, you’ll be better off to get some from the New World down the road!) They also boast the only Guinness in town for those more mature drinkers and have sure seen some vessels sunk in their time but none yet by foolhardy runners!

Feilding Guide: Eat, drink and do | Palmerston North City ...
Murray’s Irish Bar

Where can we get good coffee in Palmy or Fielding? If you’re not in to coffee, where is the best cafe to sit and eat large meals out of a tupperware container while your friends have coffee?

I’m most certainly a coffee drinker! (and not the instant type either,) wouldn’t go without it before a race. Piccolos and Coffee on the Square (they’re across the road from each other) will be open early enough for us runners and are in close proximity to the start/finish of the race. The Rosebowl is great for those who are in need of quick calories/post race treats, while The Strongroom or Amayjen are good choices for those looking for a bit more nourishment.

Thanks in advance for helping me out! And if you are able to, can I get a photo of you in your early running days in the Moa’s singlet to go alongside the article?

My pleasure, have a lot of pride for my hometown. It’s always important to remember where you’ve come from.

Fitting that one of my last races in a Moa’s Singlet came at Newtown Park for the 2016 Capital Classic.