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'Nothing short of incredible' - Kiwi cyclist completes Race Across America

He's had almost no sleep, little oxygen and very little shelter from the elements - but Blenheim cyclist Craig Harper has pushed his body to the limit and over the finish line in The Race Across America (RAAM).

Not only has the endurance athlete completed the 4828km course, but he's placed with the best in the world, ranking 3rd place in the under 50s and 4th overall.

Harper told 1 NEWS as a first timer to the race, he "played to the advantage of having no limitations and so I just decided to go out and race as fast as I could".

It took him a total of ten days and 15 hours to cross the continent, starting in Oceanside, California and finishing in Annapolis, Maryland.

"You definitely have times when some self-doubt comes in but at the end of the day, you've basically just got to grit your teeth and get on with it if you really want to do it," Harper says.

For some riders, that's too much to ask. Fifteen RAAM individuals and teams have called it quits so far.

Fellow Kiwi Ron Skelton is still determined to finish his second RAAM while raising awareness for veteran support services. As of this evening (NZT), he had just under 500km left to ride.

Harper credits his success to his "lifeline support crew of seven Kiwis and two Brits".

"I couldn't have asked for better support, both as friends, professionally and as a crew. They're jobs are all around the clock, 24 hours a day. So it was tough for them, just as it was tough for me".

The celebrations have now started for Harper and will be waiting for him back home, where a mayoral reception has been planned in his honour.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says his achievement is "nothing short of incredible".

"Everyone in Marlborough is so proud of him, his commitment and sportsmanship. We'll celebrate in suitable style here in Blenheim - the Marlborough bubbles are on ice!"

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Cycling nearly 5000km, Harper finished the race fourth overall. Source: 1 NEWS