In it for the long run

Boh Ritchie in action.

Boh Ritchie is running her way into the record books.

Last month the Tamahere teenager made history by winning Athletics New Zealand’s first ever U20 mile race.

She was just 14 when she achieved the feat at the Capital Classic in Wellington, covering the 1.6km distance in a blistering 5 minutes and 2.67 seconds.

“It was pretty big… she’s part of history now,” said Boh’s coach Ange Russek, assistant director of sport at St Peter’s Cambridge.

Boh, now 15, is emerging as one of the most exciting running talents St Peter’s has ever seen.

Aspiring to be a professional athlete and Olympian one day, she is demolishing school records over short, middle and long distances and holds nine junior running records.

“You have lots of young teenagers who can be quite phenomenal at this age but, depending on what happens through their development, they do plateau a little bit,” Ange said.

“But we’ve had some very talented athletes come through our programme and Boh’s smashing all their records so, in perspective, she’s tracking along to be as good as she wants to be really. Whatever pathway she chooses she’s got the potential to get there.”

Boh is also a keen swimmer and triathlete and made St Peter’s top football team as a year 9. Last year she won bronze in the North Island Secondary Schools U20 track cycling team sprint event.

She has been selected for New Zealand Secondary Schools’ cross country and track and field teams and has won two New Zealand club cross country titles representing Hamilton City Hawks.

Boh reckons she gets her athletic talent from her dad, who “was pretty much good at every sport as a kid” and can still beat her in a 100m race.

“Boh’s whole family is remarkably supportive,” Ange said. “They’re like a fan club.”

Ange said Boh was a humble and “very popular” member of the athletics squad who was always willing to help others.

“I’m just as proud of the way she goes up to every other athlete after her race and says well done and actually goes up the officials and thanks them for their time as I am of her national titles.”

St Peter’s Cambridge student Boh Ritchie with coach Ange Russek.

It was Boh’s positive attitude and work ethic that originally stood out for Ange, who has been particularly impressed by the teenager’s composure on the track.

“I think her race tactics are way more mature than her age, especially in middle distance races,” Ange said.

“She can adjust or take control of races, which is a really big thing, and her kick – quite often I hear other coaches comment as well – if it’s tight she can pin her ears back and just clear the field and get to the front.”

Boh says running is “just fun”.

“I love the team culture, the trainings, the build up to the race, and obviously feeling really good when you race,” she said. “I feel really free when I run.”

She now has her sights set on representing New Zealand at the IAAF World U20 Athletics championships in 2024.

In the meantime, she just wants to keep getting personal bests and working with her coach and other sports department teachers, who she said had been “really supportive”.

“Ange is always energetic and she makes everything fun and exciting,” she said.

The teenager was named after a favourite great aunt – but the spelling was influenced by New Zealand artist Boh Runga.

“I liked the way Boh was spelt and thought they also looked a little similar,” mum Sarah said.


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