Just keep putting one leg in front of the other, because you never know.

Hastings veteran runner Vern Preston got quite the surprise as he came to the finishline of the 2018 Pak'nSave 3 Bridges Marathon on Saturday.

Preston had wondered why a Velo Ronny bike, ridden by a support volunteer, had come back along the course to follow him on his final laps back towards Moutoa Gardens, only to discover as he entered the finishing chute that he was in fact the full marathon winner.

Early after the 7.30am start, local lad Louis Hogan and another runner had gone out to a big lead in the warm conditions, and after just over two of the four laps in the 42km race, both of them had 'blown out'.

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The other runner withdrew while Hogan fell back to finish 21st.

Preston, going at his own pace, crossed the line at exactly 10.30am on the finishline clock, and was surprised to get a medal hung around his neck.

"I saw them about 30m from the line, I thought the bike was for third place," he said.

"I didn't even see them, they pushed each other too hard.

The 52-year-old couldn't believe his good fortune.

"[It's like] the tortoise and the hare," he said.

"There's still life in the old dog yet."

Preston is currently training for the Tarawera 100 Mile Endurance Run in February and because he was staying the weekend in Palmerston North, he decided to hop over and give the Whanganui event a go.

"I did the half [marathon] about 5-6 years ago.

"It's not a bad course, makes it a bit easier when it's a lap course.

"I just followed a couple of groups to begin with and took it from there.

"You don't want to go too hard, too soon. It sorts itself out late in the race."

There had been further confusion at the finishline earlier when England's Richard Guest had miscounted and came in a lap early, initially believed to be the winner.

Once organiser Rob Conder of the Wanganui Harrier Club had established with his timing crew that Guest was a lap in arrears, the Englishman who had been "astonished" to think he won, just smiled and put down his drink to carry on.

"I don't care if I'm the winner, or last, I do it for charity," Guest said beforehand.

"I'm here to see all my family for six months.

"I run for Children with Cancer and Breast Cancer."

Due to the continued construction on State Highway 4 on the Whanganui East side of the river, this year's course was slightly modified, coming in at around 2m longer per lap.

Starting from Moutoa Gardens, the runners would head over the Dublin St Bridge, but then do a loop back around Kowhai Park and head north before coming back to the Dublin bridge.

They would then run south to the Cobham Bridge and come back along State Highway 4 to cross at the City Bridge before heading for home.

The Let's Go 5km relay racers did a modified turnaround after crossing Dublin St Bridge, while the Unichem Whanganui 10km competitors did one lap and the Property Brokers half marathon competitors did four.

Among the McDonald's 1.2km Kids' Fun-run-athon runners were five very talented youngsters who have been undertaking a special project for the past three months.

The children, aged 5-9 have been entering running events of various lengths over that time, which collectively would add up to a 42km full marathon.

Their final 1.2km to complete was the Fun-run-athon.

They were Joshua Addenbrooke (5), Sophie Addenbrooke (8), Sarah Addenbrooke (9), Zoe Toy (7) and Alexis Toy (7).

Organisers were delighted with the number of entries, which was believed to be closing in on 750.

"If it's not our record, it's certainly the most we've had in the past five years," said spokeswoman Paula Conder.

The half marathon and 10km runs were the most popular categories.

Pernille Lunn Erstad coming in as the leading woman in the Property Brokers Half Marathon.
Pernille Lunn Erstad coming in as the leading woman in the Property Brokers Half Marathon.

Results:

Full Marathon Run

– Men: 1. Vern Preston (Hastings) 2:59.23; 2. Steve Gawn (Wellington); 3. Matapuku Robati (Porirua). Women: 1. Lucy Strack (Auckland) 3:19.57; 2. Rima Carlson (Whanganui); 3. Francesca Smaller (Auckland).

Full Marathon Walk – Men: 1. Malcolm Gray (Auckland) 5:16.49; 2. Robin Howard (Whanganui); 3. Anthony Salisbury (New Plymouth). Female: 1. Donna Roderick (Taumarunui) 4:56.51; 2. Vicki Adlam (Taupo); 3. Chris Leahy (Wellington).

Half Marathon Run – Men: 1. Reuben Tomlinson (Matamata) 1:20.34; 2. Chris Lines (Whanganui); 3. Denis Owen (Palmerston North). Women: 1. Pernille Lunn Erstad (Whanganui) 1:36.57; 2. Sophie Lee (Wellington); 3. Wilma Minnee (Palmerston North).

Half Marathon Walk – Men: 1. Harry Terwiel (New Plymouth) 2:12.13; 2. Derren Hutchinson (Taradale); 3. Shane Vazey (Levin). Women: 1. Robyn Elizabeth Wolf (Napier) 2:25.55; 2. Carolyn Schrader (Hawera); 3. Leeann Lock (Whanganui).

10km Run – Men: 1. Brian Carlson (Whanganui) 40.35; 2. Dean Cash (Melbourne); 3. Nathan Roche (Wellington). Women: 1. Amanda Broughton (Wellington) 42.23; 2. Michelle Van Looy (Wellington); 3. Amara Rae (Greytown).

10km Walk – Men: 1. Lucas Martin (Whanganui) 1:01.15; 2. Colin Clark (Feilding); 3. Edward Hutchinson (Taradale). Women: 1. Kate Quigley (Whanganui) 1:16.07; 2. Rachelle Tait (Palmerston North); 3. Maria MacLean (Whanganui).

5km Run – Men: 1. Gareth Jones (Whanganui 20.12; 2. Elliot Jones (Whanganui); 3. Oliver Jones (Whanganui). Women: 1. Jaime Crofskey (Palmerston North) 24.15; 2. Jessica Johnstone (Whanganui); 3. Rochelle Putt (Hawera).

5km Walk – Men: 1. David O'Keeffe (Te Awamutu) 45.23; 2. Kahurangi Simon (Whanganui); 3. Roy Barnett (Palmerston North). Women: 1. Michelle Barnaby (Palmerston North) 46.59; 2. Beth O'Rourke (Whanganui); 3. Steph Paranihi-Simon (Whanganui).

Kids Fun-Run-Athon - Male: 1. Kaleb Compton (Westmere) 5.47; 2 . Owen Parker (St Annes) 6.00; 3. Xavier Booth (Westmere) Female: 1. Bridget Trott (St Georges School) 6.16; 2. Hannah Byam (St George's); 3. Sophie Trott (St George's School).

Corporate Relay Run: 1. The Avengers (Whanganui) 1:56.50.

Corporate Relay Walk – Women: 1. Neva Bean 4 (Whanganui) 2:51.32; 2. Neva Bean 2 (Whanganui); 3. Vet Services (Whanganui). Mixed: 1. Neva Bean 3 (Whanganui) 2:31.34; 2. Neva Bean 1 (Whanganui) 2:59.43.