Long-distance runner Sarah Biss has defended her Rotorua off-road half marathon title.
The athlete battled jetlag and hot conditions to win back-to-back titles at the Whakarewarewa Forest event.
Rotorua's Biss flew in from a training camp in Kenya on Saturday night to take part in yesterday's event. Although she crossed the line well ahead of her nearest rival, she admitted it was one of the hardest races she has competed in.
"I'll never raced jetlagged again, that was just nasty. I just wanted to curl up under a tree and go to sleep. I had no rhythm, nothing, but [to finish] is just a relief."
Biss finished in a time of 1h30m22s, nearly four minutes ahead of Cambridge runner Bridget Deverell with 1h33m51s. Rotorua's Erin Leahy was third with two Tauranga runners, Judith May and Danielle Lee, rounding off the top five.
Despite it being announced Biss was using this event as a build-up to qualify for the Commonwealth Games the runner said she hadn't thought that far ahead and was just looking to build to the New Zealand running champs later in the year.
"That's the first I've heard about the Comm Games when the announcer said that ... I'm hoping to get a handle on [what I should do] when I race in a couple of weeks, when I do the New Zealand 5000m champs."
The men's race crowned a new champion as Hamilton's Garit Read crossed the line in a time of 1h18m55s, followed by Auckland's Nicholas Johnston 1h19m41s with Read's Hamilton Hawks teammate John Crane third 1h20m15s. Rotorua's Tony Broadhead and his Lake City Athletic Club teammate Bruce Edwards were fourth and fifth respectively.
Read said he was happy to pick up the win in his first attempt at the race.
"I was pretty stuffed. I was hurting the last little bit. I haven't raced a half marathon in a long time. It was good [to win] but it was hard out there.
"It was nice and cool in the shade under the trees, which was good. But it was a whole other story under the sun. It was awesome running on the trails but going across the road you started to feel it in your legs."
Rotorua's first man home, Tony Broadhead, who collapsed over the finish line exhausted, said it had been a tough race.
"It was a little bit windy but lovely running through the forest. I had an awesome first lap but faded quite a bit in the second lap and it was just a matter of hanging on. Overall I'm pleased with my run. It's a bit faster than I did it two years ago so I'm pretty happy."