Nick Berry completed his very first marathon on Saturday - and he won it.
The 27-year-old Tauranga man was one of 221 people to have completed the Tauranga International Marathon's main event and was the first person over the marathon finish line, completing the 42.2km distance in two hours, 37 minutes and 42 seconds.
Though tired and a little sore straight after the race, Berry says taking a win in his first marathon felt "really good".
With a background in cross country running and triathlon at high school level, Berry decided to start getting back into it over the last three years with "a bit of surf lifesaving", also completing half marathons and half Ironman events.
But it was after completing the Coast to Coast event last year - though unsatisfied with his performance due to not getting his nutrition right - he decided to focus on running.
He says running is easier to juggle around every day commitments and it's what he enjoys most.
"It's always been my best discipline."
He said he knew he wanted to be competitive in Saturday's marathon but given it was his first he had no idea how it would end so his game plan was to "run it the way I wanted to run it".
That plan obviously proved successful.
Starting along Papamoa Beach Rd, Berry described the marathon course as "an amazing" one, which really took "it out of your legs", especially pacing around Mauao.
He said although the track was pretty flat, it didn't make for an easy run, with the corners of the boardwalk around the Daisy Hardwick track and headwinds faced along Totara St testing him.
"It was pretty tough for the last five or six ks.
"There were slight tailwinds going down to the Mount, that's where we built up a bit of a lead."
But he wasn't caught offguard by the course.
"I knew it quite well."
In fact, Berry is particularly familiar with at least 10km of the course because it's where he and his boss run during their lunchtimes.
Berry grew up in Whanganui before moving to Auckland to study and work, before moving to Tauranga a year ago. Working in business and corporate banking at BNZ on Cameron Rd, Berry says there are a number of keen runners there who will often run together during their lunch breaks.
These midday runs were just part of the preparation Berry did for the Tauranga International Marathon.
As the event edged closer, Berry, who is sponsored by Croucher Brewing and streetwear clothing brand ilabb, says his distances increased, running 110km in a week at one point. Others he'd run about 50-60km a week.
"I try and take it a little bit casual, try not to get in the way of life and I enjoy it."
To celebrate his win Berry went to dinner with his parents and grandmother, who were visiting from Whanganui, and his partner Hannah Wells who also had something to celebrate as the third woman to finish the half marathon.
Wells is a professional triathlete so it's no surprise she helps encourage Berry in his training.
Berry's next big race is scheduled for February 9 - taking a massive leap from his first marathon to an ultramarathon, having entered the 102km Tarawera Ultramarathon, which is New Zealand's most prestigious ultramarathon and part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour.
Though he hasn't committed to other events in between, he says he'll likely "try and line up another marathon in between".
"It's totally different."
Not too far behind Berry in the Tauranga marathon was Andrius Ramonas, who placed second with a time of two hours, 39 minutes and 42 seconds.
The first-placed man and woman in the marathon each won $2000. The first female finisher was Jess Walley, finishing with a time of three hours, three minutes and four seconds.
A total of 1074 people completed the nine events offered as part of the Tauranga International Marathon with running and walking options in the marathon, half-marathon, 12km and 6km distances as well as a 1.5km Superhero Kid's Dash for children under 13.
Tauranga International Marathon results:
1 Nick Berry 2:37:48
2 Andrius Ramonas: 2:39:42
3 Tama Christensen: 2:41:48
1 Jess Walley 3:03:04
2 Katherine Morgan 3:06:18
3 Katherine Barker 3:14:52