Tomorrow's Kerikeri Half Marathon is shaping up to be a duel between Warkworth's Louis Young and Harry Linford of Whangārei and one that could decide the title in this year's Sport Northland Run/Walk Series.
With only the Kerikeri event left to run, Young is ahead on the leaderboard with 31 points while Linford is snapping at his heels with 27.
The Whangārei runner, 23, will have his work cut out to win the overall title though — with eight points awarded for a first place and five for second, Linford would not only have to win but his rival would have to finish third or worse.
Given Young's form in the Whangārei Half Marathon on September 23, when he set a new course record of 1h 13m 27s and leapfrogged Linford on the leaderboard, the 21-year-old architecture student would need to have a particularly bad day in the office to miss out on the series crown.
By contrast there is no contest in the women's division which has already been well and truly won by 41-year-old Maria Akesson of Kerikeri, who has an unassailable 20-point lead over her nearest rival, Katie McVerry.
Sport Northland event lead Jesse Gavin said conditions looked promising with a mix of cloud, sunshine and light winds forecast.
In any case, anything would be better than last year's heavy rain which forced the cancellation of the prizegiving and the evening's street party.
Entry numbers are down on last year — around 1800 compared to just under 2000 in 2017 — but that was likely because last year's Kerikeri Half doubled as the national championships.
Last year's fastest runners, Chris Lautenslager and Oska Baynes, are not entered this year.
Numbers for tomorrow's event were 917 runners, 44 competitive walkers and four race chairs, with 195 in the walk and 314 in the run/walk hybrid.
More than 200 had entered the Ray White 5K event, which starts with a lap of the vines at Marsden Estate Winery before joining the last section of the half marathon course.
The Kerikeri event was popular for its scenic, mainly downhill course, but also because most of the route, from the start on Waiare Rd near Okaihau to the SH10 junction, was on closed roads.
From the roundabout to Kerikeri Domain participants would, for the first time, be able to run on a new footpath, which meant Kerikeri Rd would be open to normal traffic.
Prizegiving will start about 12.30pm on the domain with the Kerikeri Street Party running from 5-9pm.
The course records were set in 2017 by Chris Lautenslager (1h 4m 57s) and in 2003 by Mary Davies (1h 15m 19s).