Rotorua's Will O'Connor only entered yesterday's Rotorua Half Marathon the day before the event - but that last-minute decision was no disadvantage.

Instead, the 30-year-old, who moved to Rotorua from Palmerston North with his wife Emma in July, was the first person to cross the finish line of the 21.1km event with a time of one hour, 19 minutes and 30 seconds.

Only seconds behind him was Kurt Brinker, who finished second in 1h 19m 48s and in third was Matthew Morreau, who finished in 1h 20m 52s.

O'Connor is doing the Kepler Challenge next weekend with Emma - a former professional cyclist who has competed in world road championships and rode professionally for New Zealand and around Europe. He says he decided to enter the Rotorua half on Saturday in preparation for the 60km ultra marathon.

Advertisement

"I felt like I really needed to test my legs," O'Connor says.

So, he and Emma headed out to do a bit of an inspection of the course the day before and he enjoyed the event saying it well-marked and was appreciative of the organisers and the volunteers who braced rough weather conditions on the day.

"It was really good, it didn't really rain too much we [half-marathon runners] sort of got a good break in the weather."

With his next race this weekend, O'Connor is no stranger to tough races.

He has completed an Ironman in Canada in 2015, kayaked in an adventure race in China in September and over the years has entered Xterra events and a 10km road running national competition. He first did an ultra marathon about two years ago and in that time he has completed the 100km Taupō Ultramarathon three times, with his last one in October, scoring a third place.

Rotorua's Will O'Connor won the 2018 Rotorua Half Marathon event with a time of one hour, 19 minutes and 30 seconds. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua's Will O'Connor won the 2018 Rotorua Half Marathon event with a time of one hour, 19 minutes and 30 seconds. Photo / Ben Fraser

"That was pretty awesome."

O'Connor and his wife have PHDs in sports science and he started running about nine years ago to compliment his studies. He says knowing how the body works definitely helps with his long-distance training but there is a lot of preparation that is needed beyond the physical.

"You sort of need to put your body in a state of fatigue.

"It helps massively, sometimes good, sometimes it's a little burdensome because I over analyse things."

He has completed short and long-distance competitions but he can't pinpoint which style of running he prefers over the other.

"I loved [the 10km road running nationals] because it's a real race you know, because you're going as fast as you can and there's not a lot of negative consequences. If you go out too hard you sort of just slow a little bit but it's still going to take just over 30 minutes where as when you're running 100, if you go out too fast it's going to take you an extra couple of hours.

"It's a real game if chess and also the whole physiology behind it, there's the nutritional side, the mental side and there's also the skill component of running on trails, like I love to race but I also love that long distance. It's more you versus yourself than you verse someone else."

Carolina Granfors finished the half marathon event in a time of 1 hour, 36 minutes and 53 seconds to be the first woman cross the finish line. Photo / Ben Fraser
Carolina Granfors finished the half marathon event in a time of 1 hour, 36 minutes and 53 seconds to be the first woman cross the finish line. Photo / Ben Fraser

Rotorua Half Marathon's first woman over the line, Carolina Granfors, completed the race with a time of 1h 36m 53s.

Visiting New Zealand from Finland to swim, bike and run in different parts of the country, Granfors is also doing the Ironman 70.3 Taupō on December 8.

This was her first time in Rotorua and loved the course.

2018 Rotorua Half Marathon:

Overall results:

1st: Will O'Connor, 1:19:30

2nd: Kurt Brinker, 1:19:48

3rd: Matthew Morreau, 1:20:52

Women's results

1st Carolina Granfors, 1:36:53 (25th overall)

2nd: Catherine Hawco, 1:40:31 (35th overall)

3rd: Sian Twiddy, 1:47:10 (57th overall)