3 Bridges Marathon
Auckland's Jaden Cairncross was not going to let the muggy conditions stop him finishing his third marathon in six weeks as he broke the 2h 50s mark in winning the Pak 'n Save 3 Bridges Marathon on Saturday.
After very hot conditions in the lead up to the four 10.5km lap race around the Whanganui township, it was expected that the finishing times would be pushed back beyond the three hour mark as competitor's further paced themselves to avoid blowing out.
However, Cairncross had set himself the goal of a personal best by breaking into the two hour, 49 minute range, and he got there with 48 seconds to spare after a very strong run despite the mid-morning conditions being stifling before some late cloud cover set in.
"Very [hot], especially coming back with the sun," he said.
The toughest section as the 7-8km stretch from Putiki Drive to the Cobham Bridge and running back along Taupo Quay, where the runners and walkers are most exposed to the elements, compared to the first section through Kowhai Park after clearing the Dublin St Bridge.
"I actually started feeling really bad, it was my least favourite part of the course," Cairncross said.
"The top end was nice.
"There's a few sharp hills where they're doing those road works [beside City Bridge] and on the fourth lap, they were tough.
"That's where I started to feel the cramps. I just wanted a PB of under 2.50."
The annual 3 Bridges race is a destination event for competitors from around the country and indeed the world, as Tom Simmons was catching his breath at the finishline, having come from the United Kingdom by way of residing in Wellington.
"It was pretty brutal on that final lap, just got more and more hot," he said on his runnerup men's effort.
Simmons thought temperatures were pretty good for the 7.30am start.
"But I could tell it was going to get muggy. I was with the leading group but pegged it back because I thought they were going too quick, then passed them later."
Last year's winner Brendon Keenan finished third, around ten minutes behind Cairncross.
Race director Rob Conder said the 3 Bridges marathon's reputation as a scenic but tough course was well earned with the racing community.
"It's a challenging half and full, and it's an achievement for people to finish it.
"Eighty percent of people competing are from out of town, that's as far north and as far south as it comes.
"We had a whole family from the United Kingdom enter.
"We just like seeing all the smiles coming over the line."
Conder said it was a real team effort of the Wanganui Harrier Club to host the event, but they can always use more volunteers from the community to keep it going.
Entry numbers were up on last year with 600 entered across the different events, with one of the highlight's being watching the children's group compete in the McDonald's 1.2km Fun-Run-Athon.
In the other classes, Hayley Scurr was the winner of the women's full marathon run, while Taranaki walkers took out both gender races of the marathon walk in men's winner Albie Jane (Stratford) and women's victor Sally Lobb (Inglewood).
The half marathon run winners were Wellington's Mark Moore and former Whanganui international cyclist Cath Cheatley.
Top half marathon walkers were Derren Hutchinson (Taradale) and Sherryn Hardy (New Plymouth).
By: Jared Smith,