Wellington's Sarah Drought claimed her first national title in a tense finish to the women's race at the national road running championships on Saturday.
Drought outkicked the defending champion, Lisa Robertson, of Auckland, to win by 2 seconds after the pair were locked in battle for much of the 10km race around the Wellington waterfront.
The race was combined with the men's event which Drought said helped get her over the line.
"A few of them helped pull me through a bit and then it was really digging deep in that last bit and it's my first New Zealand title so it feels pretty good," Drought said.
It was the first season that Drought has made it through to the road racing after suffering injuries for the past two winters.
Robertson admitted she struggled.
"I didn't feel that great to be honest, I was running OK but I didn't feel that strong. I sat in fourth and let them play cat and mouse and save it till the end. Sarah picked up the pace and I picked it up with her, but she obviously wanted it more," Robertson said.
In the men's race, Edwin Kaitany, of Kenya, continued his winning way around New Zealand.
Kaitany led out after 6km and went on unchallenged to record 30m 20s for the 10km. Tim Hodge, of Wellington, finished second and collected his first national title, 25sec behind Kaitany. Evan Cooper, of Wellington, claimed the silver medal in a close finish with Peter Meffan, of Otago.
Kaitany, 21, preferred the solid surface of the road compared to the muddy track in Hamilton last month when he won the New Zealand cross-country championship race.
"I like the road but it was a bit windy today and when I was finishing I was not feeling good as I had a lot of pain in my hips so I took painkillers and still took out the race despite the pain," he said.
Hodge was delighted in winning his first senior title. "I'm pretty stoked. I just wanted to run smart, I didn't think I ran that smart in the cross-country nationals so I figured I had something to prove coming back from that," Hodge said.
The men's race was robbed of some interest when pre-race favourite Sam Wreford didn't line up.
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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