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Cook Islands athletes depart for World Cross Country Championships

Tuesday 26 March 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Athletics, Sports


Cook Islands athletes depart for World Cross Country Championships
Cross country runners Adrianna Skurosz (left) and Rupeni Mataitoga (right) with Athletics Cook Islands president Simone Fe’ao before they departed Rarotonga to compete in the World Cross Country Champs in Belgrade, Serbia, this Saturday. SUPPLIED / 24032504

Athletics Cook Islands will have two athletes participating in the World Athletics Cross Country Championship in Belgrade, Serbia, Europe this weekend.

Adrianna Skurosz and Rupeni Mataitoga left Rarotonga yesterday to participate in the cross country event this Saturday, March 30.

Coach Greg Gustafson, an experienced runner and middle to long distance coach, commented on the training done in preparation for this event.

Gustafson said they hope to encourage more cross country running in the future.

Looking at the two athletes’ training schedule, he said trials were held in February, between him and Ruth Mave using the water intake tracks.

Gustafson set and monitored the athletes’ training up to their departure, where Mataitoga covered 171.87 kilometres and Skurosz averaged 55km per week.

Mataitoga, who was part of the athletics team to the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands, says he is looking forward to the atmosphere, the vibe and being surrounded with top athletes from all over the world.

“I am hoping to eventually break my 10km personal best of 39 minutes and slowly work towards the Cook Islands national record currently sitting at 35.23 minutes set way back in 1979.”

Following the World Cross Country Championships, Mataitoga will set his sights on the Pursuit in Paradise race in Aitutaki on April 30th. There, he aims to surpass his previous 10km record of 41.54 minutes set in 2023. The Oceania Athletics Championships in Fiji come next in June.

“I would like to thank Athletics Cook Islands for giving me the opportunity to represent the Cook Islands on the world stage and my two coaches Greg Gustafson and Alex Beddoes for their continuous support and guidance building up to this Cross Country Championships,” he added.

Skurosz who is taking part in the Senior Women’s Cross Country 10km race says she is  looking forward to learning more and gaining new experience.

“I am proud to represent the Cook Islands at an international event.”

Skurosz said she will be part of the International Triathlon on May 4 in Rarotonga when she returns.

Meanwhile, a local cross-country series is set to start and will be run over four weeks in July “when it is cooler”.