Endurance mountain biker Jason English has produced an "inhuman" effort to claim his seventh straight title at the World Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships.

While most people would have been fast asleep in Rotorua during the early hours of Sunday morning, the best endurance mountain bikers in the world were slugging it out in the Whakarewarewa Forest.

Racing started on Saturday at noon and finished 24 hours later as riders completed as many laps of the 17.3km circuit as possible.

English (Australia) won the men's world title for a record seventh-straight time, after an epic battle with Cory Wallace (Canada), while Liz Smith (Australia) won her first women's world title in a slightly more convincing manner.

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It was the first time the world 24-hour champs have been held in New Zealand and English said he was over the moon with the result, despite being completely sleep deprived after the race.

English said his battle with Wallace made for one of the toughest races he'd been a part of. "I knew the whole time Cory was a much stronger rider, I don't actually know what it came down to between us, probably just a bit of mongrel," he said.

Wallace held a slight lead during the early hours yesterday, but English caught him up and pushed hard for the win, completing 27 laps six minutes faster than Wallace.

"I thought I'd wind it up a little bit and get a bit of a gap [during the last few laps]. I was quite surprised that I could and more surprised that I could hold it. So it played out quite well."

Second-placed Wallace said he thought he had English a couple of times during the race, but the seven-time champ was simply "inhuman".

Smith made it a double for the Australians by taking out the women's race ahead of Kiwi Nina McVicar. The defending women's world champion Sonya Looney (Canada) was down to race in Rotorua as well but suffered an injury while out riding in Auckland last week.

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Smith said she was rapt to win the title. "I'm stoked, it has been a long time and I tried once before and finished fourth in 2013, so I'm rapt," she said.

"I rode here last year [during another event], and it was an unreal race and an unreal track so I thought I have to come back."

She said it helped not having any mechanical issues during the race, barring a pedal coming off. About 150 riders took part from 14 countries.

Results:

Women: 1 Liz Smith (Australia) 22 laps in 24:46:51, 2 Nina McVicar (NZ) 21 laps in 24:20:13, 3 Kate Penglase (Australia) 21 laps in 24:52:10.

Men: 1 Jason English (Australia) 27 laps in 23:56:39, 2 Cory Wallace (Canada) 27 laps in 24:00:49, 3 Tobias Lestrell (Australia) 26 laps in 24:01:13.