A record set in 1971 remains unbeaten.
The Lovelock Relays, named after former Olympian and Otago athlete Jack Lovelock, will return for its 82nd year at the University Oval on Saturday, hosted by Hill-City University Athletic club.
Club committee member Bruce Beath was part of the Otago University senior men’s team which holds the record for the fastest time – 24min 12.6sec.
The average time per runner was 4min 2sec.
For Beath, just getting selected in the team was “key”.
“I was already in the team that held the record, 24min 20sec, and there as only one change from this time that set the record the year after.
In the team was Beath, Stuart Melville, Alistair Stewart, Keith Darling, Lindsay Dey and Trevor Sutherland.
“We had a trial at the University Oval on a murky gloomy morning.
“I was mainly a cross-country runner so I knew I couldn’t match anybody over the last 100m, so I had to put my foot down somewhere towards the back straight . . . as best I could and hope that not too many came past me by the time I got to the finish line.
“The trial was probably more important than the racing.
“Some good runners missed out.”
On the day of the relay, he just did the best as he could.
“I was running lap four and managed to do enough to keep the team in contention.
Beath said since then, other teams had not even come close to beating the record. The closest were within about a minute.
“To find six runners who can run [4min 2sec] on a soft grass track and get them together . . . well there just hasn’t been a team since that has been able to do that.”
The trophy up for grabs is modelled on the pillars of the Olympic stadium in Berlin, where Lovelock won his 1500m gold medal. It was funded by Otago University club subscriptions, and the relay was organised to commemorate his win.
While it has mostly been contested by Dunedin clubs in recent years, the Canterbury University team has won the senior men’s title the most – 17 times.
The Otago University senior women’s team set the 19min 24sec record in 2010.
Hill City-University runner Rebekah Greene set the individual women’s record of 4min 34sec in 2013 and Canterbury University runner Andrew Stark has the individual men’s record of 3min 52sec, set in 1980.