It was a fight to the finish for Patrick Brown as he landed the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon title.
From a field of more than 1,000 runners it came down to just two in contention for victory.
Brown, from East London Runners, managed to hold off Robin Jones in the final stretch as the duo powered into the wall of wind that greeted the contestants on Southsea promenade.
Anyone who has conquered the Great South Run in Portsmouth will know the feeling – but that’s in the final stretch of a 10-mile race.
This came at the end of a 26.2-mile battle with competitors dodging ankle-deep puddles, navigating tricky beach sections and trying not to fall over on slippery muddy trails.
Brown emerged a little windswept and muddy but largely unscathed as he took the victory in a time of 2hr 49min 36sec.
Jones, from Herne Hill Harriers, pushed him to the line, crossing for second place in 2.50.02.
It ensured Brown, who improved on his 10th-place finish in 2012, had to dig in all the way to the end.
He said: ‘The last four miles you run against the strong head wind. It’s tough, tough going.
‘You have just got to dig in really.
‘I knew he (Jones) was right behind and if I slowed down he would overtake me so I had that to drive me on – otherwise I would have been an extra five minutes!
‘Last year it was my brother’s 30th on the same day, so we came down for that.
‘We enjoyed it so we came back. Last year I finished 10th so I came back and came first this year. It’s not bad, is it?
‘This is my first big win so I’m happy with that.
‘It’s a good feeling. It’s nice knowing you have somebody on your tail and nice to have that sort of race.
‘In the London Marathon I wasn’t even in the top 500. It shows the difference.
‘The Portsmouth marathon is a fantastic event. The organisation is good, it’s friendly and all the marshalls are good.’
Jones was pleased with his second place but he couldn’t quite get on terms with Brown at any stage.
He said: ‘I kept him (Brown) honest at least.
‘We never actually ran together for a step.
‘I think I got to about eight to 10 metres behind.
‘You need to get on someone’s heels. I just couldn’t quite get on his heels.
‘My legs just started going in that last mile or so.
‘I was hoping to have a good mile at the end to come back but he ran really well. He was really strong.
‘The course is quite cool. It was fun.’