Collapsed on his knees after the Fullers GreatSights Kerikeri Half Marathon, Whangarei runner Harry Linford wondered whether he had ever been in more pain.

For Linford, it was the most painful experience of his running career. And, adding insult to the pain, was the 19-year-old's bridesmaid tag again - even though he was the first finishing Northlander.

"I don't actually think I've ever been in so much pain before, something went seriously wrong," Linford remarked after a well-deserved sleep-in to begin the recovery process after Saturday's half marathon.

"I was doing really well for first half, setting the pace and ahead of [eventual winner] Sasha Daniels and about the 10km mark I was still with him. And then I started feeling a little light headed and my legs started shutting down basically ... I felt like was going to faint.

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"By the end there was nothing left, I had zilch."

Linford saluted the winner, Sasha Daniels, of Auckland, saying he was impressed with the defending champion's time of 1:10:50.

As for what kept the former Pompallier Catholic College student going when the pain set in, quitting wasn't an option.

"For the last half of the race it was just determination, I didn't want to come third. I had no idea how far behind me [third place] was. I kept looking behind to see where they were.

"I can't believe Sasha did it so quick, because last year I was so close to him and this year since I've been in Auckland I've beaten him a few times at Auckland cross country events."

However, it is understandable that the Auckland University architecture student struggled to live up to his ambitions of winning the Kerikeri Half Marathon.

Fresh off the back of completing the last of his first-year exams on Friday, Linford packed up his belongings from the halls of residence and began the trip north.

While not using it as an excuse, the teenager admitted his build up to the event wasn't ideal.

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"I've had a few weeks off recovering from shin splints and up until midnight every day studying for exams," Linford explained. "I didn't even get a sleep-in on Saturday, we were straight up to Kerikeri."

He added this year's pain had not deterred him, saying he still has the goal of coming back and winning the annual Kerikeri Half Marathon.

Coming in as the first Northland woman was Whangarei's Carolyn Younger, who also wrestled the Sport Northland run/walk series title from Maria Akesson.

Sport Northland business development manager Colleen Atchison said the event had been received well, numbers were slightly down from last year but they were at a manageable level. There were 2320 entries for the event.