Huntly half a hit with competitors
For Ian Garnett there was no better way to celebrate his 60th birthday than by polishing off his 60th half marathon.
Garnett started working toward the milestone about five months ago when he realised yesterday's Huntly half marathon fell on his birthday.
"I thought the 60:60 was doable and set about doing four half marathons in five months.
"It wasn't that hard; I've done a couple of marathons but I much prefer this distance."
Garnett drove down to Huntly from his home in Orewa on Saturday and said he would round off his birthday celebrations with "a few quiet beers" in his campervan.
Race director Dion Jelley said about half of the 2100 competitors came from north of the Bombay Hills.
"Aucklanders love the event because it's well organised and the course is so picturesque," Jelley said.
There were no major injuries to report, with runners enjoying mild "near perfect" running conditions.
Commonwealth Games hopeful Samuel Wreford, of Timaru, dominated the men's half marathon field in a time of one hour and six minutes - more than four minutes faster than his nearest rival, Australian Ironman Samuel Murphy.
North Shore's Lydia O'Donnell was equally dominate in the women's field, winning in a time of 1 hour and 16 minutes.
But for each runner competing in the half marathon or the 2km, 5km or 10km distances, there was a unique story of fortitude and personal achievement.
Like 82-year-old Huntly stalwart Brian Smith, who beat runners half his age around the course, or Pukekohe mother-of-two Rachel Stenhouse, who lost 30kg in 12 months on her journey of personal fitness. Stenhouse crossed the finish line in the 10km run in one hour and 17 minutes and was cheered on by son, Christian, aged 12. The pair's matching T-shirts read: "Team Stenhouse". "Both Christian and [daughter] Kate ran today as a way of supporting me and giving back," Stenhouse said.
Auckland air hostess Ravi Dixon-Brennan was due to board a 12-hour flight to San Francisco yesterday but decided to complete the 5km walk before her afternoon trip.
She expected her legs to be a bit tired during the long-haul flight, but said any pain was outweighed by the satisfaction of completing the scenic course. "It's such good motivation to have an event like this to work and train toward and it's so well organised," she said after the walk.