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Navy runner pushes for worlds

Navigating an elite athletics programme around a busy psychology internship has meant an active year for Sub Lieutenant (SLT) Annie Arlidge.

06 November, 2023

She graduated from Junior Officer Common Training last year while her fiancé organised their wedding. Now a Navy psychologist, she fits in around 120km of running and three gym sessions per week towards her busy athletics calendar and her build-up to a world champs next year.

She’s already clocked up a rack of placings at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in March, gaining a first in the 3000-metre steeplechase, second in the 5000-metre and third in the 1500-metre. She later topped that during one weekend at the New Zealand Cross Country and Relay Championships with two golds, winning the senior women’s category and gaining another gold as a teammate for her North Harbour Bays Team. She then represented New Zealand at the 2023 World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst as part of a mixed relay team, which finished 10th.

SLT Arlidge, 27, is originally from Tauranga and attended Aquinas Catholic College and Sacred Heart Girls’ College. She says she couldn’t begin to guess when athletics started for her.

“I’ve been doing it almost forever. At school you try everything in track and field, even the ones you are not very good at. Both my parents were runners, and I found a knack for it.”

Her result at the New Zealand Cross Country Championships places in her preferred selection for the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in March.

“The Navy have been very supportive. I’m quite lucky in my trade, in that I’m able to work from home if I need to. And running competitions are mostly on the weekends, so there’s not much interference. When I went to Australia [for the World Championships], I had almost no leave as I’d only just completed my Junior Officer training. But when you represent New Zealand in a sport, you can apply for representational leave, and that was very handy.”

At time of writing she was preparing for a 10-km time trial as part of the selection process. She recently ran slightly over 10km in 34 minutes and is aiming to better that in the official trial.

She loved the fitness aspects of officer training, and blitzed the Navy’s cross country run, but she said she definitely had moments during the 22-week course.

“I did have some ‘what have I got myself into’ moments and I really missed my partner, but I love my job and it’s been worth some tough times in training.”

Aspiring psychologists undertake university studies to master’s level and then complete a registration programme. She’s very pleased she’s doing it via the New Zealand Defence Force. “NZDF and Corrections have approved supervision to registration programmes. If you’re interested in Defence it’s a great pathway.”