Phil Costley has claimed his third Rotorua Marathon title, holding off a spirited challenge from Christchurch's Blair McWhirter.
The 42-year-old from Nelson recorded a time of 2:28.25, fifteen seconds ahead of relative unknown McWhirter.
Despite a slower than hoped for time, Costley was delighted with his win. "I am rapt, given the way I felt out there," he said. " I didn't feel flash from the start but when you're running 42km you're thinking there will be a good patch there somewhere and I was waiting and waiting."
The women's title was won by Texas-based Kiwi Liza Hunter-Galvan in 2:46.20, nine minutes ahead of Wellington's Gabrielle O'Rourke.<inline type="photogallery" id="12280" align="outside" embed="no" />
Costley and defending champion Dale Warrander were part of the lead pack for the first half of the race, before Warrander began to struggle.
Going for his sixth Rotorua title, Warrander dropped behind and eventually pulled out injured. That left the door open for Costley and McWhirter who pulled away from the pack, battling it out into a head wind into the city.
"A couple of times I tried to break away from him but he's a tough nut and he stayed there," said Costley.
"It was only with three kilometres to go, slowly and surely I started to edge away." McWhirter was "chuffed" with the result, despite coming so close to a historic victory.
"With three kilometres to go he (Costley) put a little gap on me and I just couldn't get the legs ticking over," he said. "But it was nice to run with those experienced guys, sitting behind them, just saving it all up."
Ross McIntyre from Havelock North finished third. The women's title was won by Texas-based Kiwi Liza Hunter-Galvan in 2:46.20, nine minutes ahead of Wellington's Gabrielle O'Rourke.
Forty-two-year-old former Olympian Hunter-Galvan returned to competitive running last year after a two-year-ban for using performance enhancing drugs.
She was delighted with her first attempt at the Rotorua Marathon, particularly as her parents were watching her run a marathon for the first time.
"It (Rotorua) was on my bucket list to do. My Dad ran it in 1984/85 and we were out there on the course cheering him on." She said she was happy with her time, her goal having been to finish between 2:42 and 2:48, especially as she was suffering from jet lag leading up to the race.
Hunter-Galvan said she may consider entering one of the "big" marathons such as Boston or New York to go for a masters win although admitted she would have to up her training regime.
Lisa Robertson (Auckland) led the women's field for the first half of the race but may have gone out too fast, eventually dropping to third.
The 28-year-old recently returned from the Nagano Marathon in Japan, where she was unsuccessful in her attempt to qualify for the London Olympics.
Men: Phil Costley, 2:28:25, 1; Blair McWhirter, 2:28:42, 2; Ross McIntyre, 2:38:02, 3; Stephen Day, 2:38:22, 4; Angus Bell, 2:39:07 5. Women: Liza Hunter-Galvan, 2:46:20, 1; Gabrielle O'Rourke, 2:55:27, 2; Lisa Robertson, 2:59:15, 3; Erin Furness, 2:59:48, 4; Melissa Norris, 3:00:52, 5.