For Napier woman Toni Torr the first step toward competing in next April's big Harbour to Hills triathlon was last weekend - and it was quite a first step.

Actually quite a few of them as she laced up, togged up and buckled up for the Shed 2 Icebuster triathlon around Pandora on Sunday.

Competing in the Female Veteran 2 class she was one of about 150 competitors across all classes who set out in what Triathlon Hawke's Bay general manager Mike Bond said was the biggest field in five years.

Ms Torr has been training with a real passion since August, after getting the news she had won a competition staged by The Hits radio station where all her preparation and requirements, and eventual entry, for the big Harbour to Hills event would be taken care of by sponsors and the station.

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"I achieved my personal best," she said of last Saturday's build-up outing with a laugh.

"Because it was the first one I've ever done."

She had seen triathlons before and it was watching them, as friends took part, that spurred her to enter that competition arena, and embark on the journey to being part of the big April event.

"I'd done nothing like it before in my life - I was pretty scared because I haven't swum in a big group before but I came out okay - I kept to the back."

She said her extensive training programme so far had come up trumps.

She has practised swimming in pond situations, as well as cycling and running more than modest distances.

While it was tough, and led to a few aches, she never at any stage thought she could not do it, and that she should pack it in.

"Never thought that, so that's a bonus ... but I have to do four times that in April."

Ms Torr said while her coaching team simply said "just do it" she had a finish target time she wanted to aim for in all three disciplines as well as a total finish time.

She wanted to get over the line in one hour 40 minutes but missed out by five minutes.
"It would have been cool if I did but well, it's a grounding experience."

It was a valuable initial introduction to triathlon techniques like adapting quickly from the pushing of legs into pedals then the pounding of legs on pavement.

And getting the cycle gearing right and the wetsuit sorted.

"It's a bit of an experience on its own getting in and out of it - I didn't want to get stuck."

She said if someone had told her 10 weeks ago she would be taking part in the event she would have laughed.

"So I'm under way," she said.

"I was a bit had it on Sunday but by Monday I was fine and I trained again on Tuesday."

Mr Bond was pleased with Ms Torr's effort for a first-timer, where she finished seventh in her class.

Her enthusiasm echoed what he said was driving a growing membership of Triathlon Hawke's Bay which was based around creating a whole family approach as well as diversifying courses and events.

Ms Torr said she had at least two more triathlons lined up before Christmas as she counted down to the April highlight.

"It is going to be a bit scary but we're going to be okay."