When Sabrina Grogan took up running she could barely last 20 minutes and despised the sport.

Fast forward four years and the 24-year-old Tauranga woman has held the New Zealand mountain running title for the past two years and is getting ready for the World Mountain Running Championships in Europe in September.

In preparation for the champs in Andorra, a small state between France and Spain, she is showing fine form with a strong win in the women's half-marathon event in the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon on Sunday.

Runners from as far afield as Argentina, Canada, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, China, Malaysia, Netherlands, Niger, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, USA, Australia and around New Zealand were among the starters.


Though disappointed with her finishing time of 1hr 25min 04secs, 1min 40secs ahead of second-placed Cambridge runner Emerson Deverell, Grogan gave it her all in Wellington's rough weather conditions. During parts of the race, she said "standing up and moving" was quite an achievement in itself.

"The weather conditions were very typical of Wellington," Grogan said.

Ideally, she said she would have liked to have shaved about three minutes off her finishing time.

Currently based in Christchurch, where she is a medical student at University of Otago, Grogan said the Wellington race was a good training session for the world champs on September 16.

"I think it's all sort of about putting the ground work in."

And that ground work is something she has been putting in since she took up running four years ago, initially starting out doing 20-minute warm up jogs with her younger sister, Anneke Grogan, 21, who is currently three years into a running scholarship in the United States of America.

"At the start that's all I could do."

Sabrina Grogan. Photo/Supplied
Sabrina Grogan. Photo/Supplied

Admittedly, she despised running when she first started - a sport which her family were high achievers in. Her mother Glenys Kroon has represented New Zealand in cross-country, track and road events, her father Eddie Grogan is also a skilled track runner.


If anyone had told Grogan she would be a national running champ back then she said she "honestly would've laughed".

About one year later she started racing and has only looked up since - up because her forte is elevated mountain running.

"The competitive side of myself started off with with a few races."

Becoming New Zealand's senior women's mountain running champ involves 12km of racing up-hill, something she says is not only technical but also adrenaline-filled.

"I just find it really interesting, you've got to be focused.

"You get a real adrenaline rush when you get to the top."

She is looking forward to her world champs event and plans to do as much training as she can until then.

But once this year's world champs is over, it won't necessarily mean slowing down for the competitive runner.

Grogan said she will be back in the Bay of Plenty come November, when she plans to head to Whakatāne to defend her Toi's Challenge women's title.