If enthusiasm counts for anything, then 7-year-old Sean Curragh is well on the way to his dream of becoming a New Zealand champion.
The Mount Maunganui boy and his mum, Yvonne, were among the 1300 competitors who took part in yesterday's Mount Joggers & Walkers Half Marathon.
Sean was barely puffing when the Bay of Plenty Times bailed him up straight after he had finished the event's 5km race.
It was his first big street race and he felt encouraged by how well it went. Asked the big question, the St Mary's School pupil said he would love to become a New Zealand champion one day, although he wasn't sure about which event: "I like all athletics."
The event was also a red letter day for Mrs Curragh because it was her first race since she retired from competing in triathlons to have a family.
She said she liked the children to be active rather than glued to the TV: "It is about keeping busy."
The half marathon was won by Kyle MacDonald, fresh from winning the Tauranga Open cross country title last Tuesday. Echoing the cross country result, Kyle's twin brother Iain crossed second, with the MacDonalds blitzing third place-getter Tony Edmonds.
The half marathon is also building up a big following among wheelchair athletes, particularly since the resurgence in recent years of Parafed Bay of Plenty.
Neil Cudby of Papamoa has been hand-cycling for 10 years, calling himself a social rider, with wheelchair rugby his biggest sports interest. He said hand-cycling balanced the shoulder muscles and was a great way to improve aerobic capacity. "I really enjoy it. It's getting out there and getting the wind in your hair," Cudby said.
First among the wheelchair half marathoners was Auckland's Brendon Stratton followed by Ngatea's Sue Reid.