New Zealand Champions
Although champion track runners have often shone in cross-country, speed on the flat is not the sole requirement for success. The only men who have won four successive New Zealand cross-country titles, C. Weller and K. E. Williams, between them held only one national track title. There is obviously scope for specialisation in cross-country by runners who have the qualities to master rough and hilly terrain and the clearing of fences and other obstacles. Weller's four titles were gained in 1936–39 and Williams's in 1955–58, both periods in which the standard of our cross-country running was unusually high. This record has been surpassed only by J. W. Savidan, who won six titles between 1927 and 1935, three of them consecutively in 1927–29. N. Taylor is the only other runner to win more than twice. Olympic runners who have also won cross-country titles are G. N. Hill (1911), Savidan, W. H. Nelson (1946, 1951), M. G. Halberg (1953), J. L. Julian (1959), W. D. Baillie (1960, 1963), and P. G. Snell (1962). Baillie's victory in 1960 completed a unique record of New Zealand titles at 880 yards, 1 mile, 3 miles, 6 miles, and cross-country. Snell, in 1962, startled the world: the idea of allowing the Olympic 800 metres champion to run a distance 12 times as great, over rough country and obstacles, would be unthinkable overseas; that he could do so and win the national title of a country noted for its cross-country runners was astounding.
Of the 17 junior champions up to 1963, only two have later won the senior title: K. E. Williams (1951, 1955–58) and P. N. Sidon (1950, 1961). When, in 1958, K. E. and J. Williams won the senior and junior titles, they became the only brothers who have performed this feat.