It wasn't the distance Matt Harris had dreamed of, but it felt pretty good nonetheless.
Running for Auckland City, the 26-year-old Cantabrian claimed his first national title in Wellington yesterday, finishing with a withering burst of speed to win the half-marathon in 1hr 8min 32sec, four seconds ahead of pre-race favourite Daniel Balchin.
''I always dreamed of doing it in the 1500 but this opportunity came up and I was in good shape so I thought I'd come down and give it a good crack,'' said Harris, who collapsed on the Westpac Stadium concourse after crossing the line.
''I've been on the grind for about 10 years so it's nice to get a win. I'm just stoked.''
An accountant, Harris lived in Wellington for two years after graduating from university, before shifting to Auckland.
He believed his experience running for Wellington Scottish gave him an edge yesterday, overtaking Balchin with 400 metres to go.
''When you sign up for a half-marathon on the Wellington waterfront in the middle of June, you're not really expecting tip-top conditions. There were a few moments where you start to doubt yourself but I managed to get to the end and have a big finish.
"I'm mainly a 1500 metre guy so I'd always planned on leaving it as late as possible. In the last 600 it was 'believe, believe'. Going up that tiny wee hill [stadium ramp], it feels like Mt Everest at the end.
''I just pinned the ears back and didn't dare look back in case anyone was coming behind me.''
Balchin finished second while Rowan Hooper, who set the pace for much of the race, was third.
With a personal best of 4min 2sec Harris said his life goal was to run a sub-four-minute mile.
''I want to get that done and then have a think about where I can represent New Zealand one day.''
Phil Murray won the men's marathon in 2hr 37min 25sec, 34 seconds ahead of Daniel Clendon.
Brian Garmonsway was third.
Cameron Goldsmid won the men's 10 kilometre in 31min 24sec, 55 seconds ahead of Luke O'Donnell. James Richardson was third.
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