A Nelson doctor has struck a blow in sport's battle of the sexes by winning the country's toughest new ultra running race.
Katie Wright outlasted 40 blokes in Auckland's Riverhead Backyard Ultra, surviving for 201km over 30 hours in the last-woman-standing victory.
Wright's victory is yet another notch in the belt for female ultra runners, who some scientists believe are born for such events by evolution and child birth.
Wright became the first woman in the world to win a backyard race, where runners must complete 6.7km laps every hour.
And her victory was even more impressive, coming on a forest course which the race organiser has conceded was too tough and needs adjusting.
Englishwoman Wright will represent New Zealand at the Big Backyard Ultra in Tennessee, where the world's best will gather in October.
The junior doctor triumphed after fending off nausea, stomach cramps and the four male runners who tried to outlast her as the rest of the field dropped by the wayside over the gnarly and steep forest course northwest of Auckland.
Wright, from Windsor, only took up trail running 18 months ago and believes ultra racing will become a unique sport in which women will dominate men.
"I haven't really thought about it like that," she said, when asked if her victory struck a battle-of-the-sexes blow.
"It would be great if it did, though - it just hadn't crossed my mind.
"If you've got the training behind you, it is always a mental thing. I was certainly not the fastest in the field, and the guys near the end would have beaten me if it had come down to a speed race.
"Fewer women do these races but if you look at how well they do, there isn't a huge gap between men and women.
"It is hugely exciting. If anything, you might see more women on the podium than men over the next five to 10 years when more women take it up."
Other backyard races around the world last for much longer and Auckland organiser Shaun Collins said the Riverhead course needed tweaking.
Collins was among the competitors pushing Wright at the end.
Thirty-five-year-old Adam Keen from Christchurch finished second, lasting 28 laps.
Wright's running history includes jogging around Wales for 33 days to raise money for a leukaemia charity after a friend died of the illness. During that, she averaged about 50km a day on the 14000km Wales Coast Path and Offa's Dyke.
She also finished second to American ultramarathon star Camille Herron in this year's Tarawera 100-miler.
Wright said she was overwhelmed by the support from Auckland-based Emma Bainbridge, who was one of seven women in the Riverhead field.
Bainbridge, a fellow Brit, insisted Wright take her bed the night before the race, while Bainbridge relegated herself to the couch. After dropping out on lap 10, Bainbridge and her sister supported Wright to victory.
Wright got into early difficulties and had to throw out her normal eating plan, replacing natural foods like potatoes with gels and electrolyte drinks.
"I love racing and I'm pretty competitive," said Wright.
"I also really enjoy seeing parts of New Zealand that I wouldn't get to otherwise, things that not many others get to see.
"I'm very stubborn, which might not be such a great trait in other walks of life, but it works when you compete at this. I never thought about stopping."
The world's best women ultra runners have a number of victories over men. American Courtney Dauwalter finished second in last year's Backyard Ultra in Tennessee, completing 450km over 67 laps.
After that race, the New York Times profiled Dauwalter and reckoned: "For now, elite ultra running is one of the few sports in which women appear able to hold their own with men.
"Dauwalter's prowess has crystallised the debate about whether psychological fortitude can trump men's innate strength advantages in endurance sport.
"This much is clear: As the distance lengthens, the biological advantages that men have grow smaller."
Evolutionary biologist Heather Heying told the NYT: "This is about stamina, and stamina is some combination of yes, strength, but also psychological will.
"It begs the question, is there something going on for women, perhaps, given our very long evolutionary history as mammals who spent a long time gestating and then giving birth, that gives us a psychological edge in extremely long-term endurance events?"
Collins said the attitude of the male competitors towards Wright was "go you legend".
"If I couldn't win it, then it was awesome to see her win," said Collins, who had been desperate to prevail and thus win a place in the Tennessee race.
"I had no idea if she was up to it, no one did except her. But she thought she had a good chance.
"And it's not like cross country where women run lesser distances than men. There is not really the gender thing in ultra running."