About 14,500 runners took over Auckland city streets yesterday for five events ranging from a full marathon to a 5km run and walk.
Perfect conditions - sun with a cooling breeze - greeted 10,000 of the entrants at Devonport for the run over the harbour bridge, and along Auckland's waterfront to a finish in front of thousands at Victoria Park.
The Auckland Marathon, with 2700 entrants, was won by Dale Warrander, who took the lead from Sam Wreford at the St Heliers turn for home.
His time of 2h 19m 10s gave the Gold Coast fitness trainer his third big-event win this year.
The New Zealander also won the Rotorua Marathon and the Lydiard Legend Marathon in the Waitakeres.
Yesterday's race was also the national championship, and his win qualified him for next year's world marathon championship event.
First woman home in the full marathon was Shireen Crumpton, of Dunedin, in 2h 49m 51s, ahead of Ady Ngawati, of Whangarei, who has twice won it.
The half marathon drew 7300 entrants.
Youthful Aucklander Danielle Travis broke the women's record with an effort of 1h 13m.
But public applause at the finish line was loudest for the 280 "heart racers" whose sponsors paid $90,000 to the National Heart Foundation.
Top fundraiser Joanne Jackson drew $7500 on her first Auckland Marathon. She put in seven hours of training a week. The New Plymouth mother of two said her husband, Gary, had heart disease.
"I'll see how the body recovers, whether I do another marathon."
The determination of a 74-year-old woman to finish the "quarter marathon", albeit with the aid of a walking stick, also drew warm applause.
Asking to be named only as "Corrie", she said the stick helped to keep her balance. "I've been on all the harbour marathons and unfortunately I'm having to slow down."
About 1000 competitors were from overseas, and 4500 were Kiwis from outside Auckland.
Race director Richard Lindroos said the event brought in about $2.5 million for Auckland's accommodation industry alone.
The Auckland Council will take over from the Auckland City Council as the event's second-biggest sponsor, next to adidas.
Mr Lindroos said 10,000 places for this year's full and half marathon sold out within five weeks of going on sale on April 20.
Asked about reported offers by "scalpers" to resell places for twice the $95 half-marathon fee, Mr Lindroos said it was disappointing.
"We cannot stop that because it's not protected by the Major Events Act, but in the last few weeks you could have got one for virtually nothing on Trade Me from people unable to race."
Mr Lindroos said this year's 10,000 cap on the number of competitors crossing the harbour bridge was necessary for sound operational management, but was not imposed because of bridge limitations.
The event depended on 750 volunteers and covered 31km of public roads.
"We have increased places by 3000 in the last few years. It's a big event and you have to manage growth otherwise you would disappoint customers."