Margosia Buchowiecki is no stranger to hard work.
Eleven years ago, she undertook an incredible personal journey to lose 50kg. By 2012, she was a shadow of her former self.
"I was very fit: a mountain biker, gym class freak, strong - no asthma - thinner and sculpted."
That same year, the resource teacher of learning and behaviour moved from Wellington to Auckland. She spent seven months nursing her terminally ill mother in Canada, began studying and changed jobs. Slowly all the hard work began to unravel and Buchowiecki regained 17kg.
"I was told I am a borderline diabetic and I can't get life insurance cover due to my weight increase, so something had to be done," she says wryly.
In November 2015, Buchowiecki was one of 12 participants chosen for the Partners Life DUAL Scholarship Programme. The programme includes boot camp, a personal trainer, nutrition advice, online support, exercise gear and entry to the Partners Life DUAL, a triathlon and off-road running event held on Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands on March 19.
Total Sport director Aaron Carter says the scholarship was designed to help people who wanted to make a total lifestyle change, embracing health and fitness.
"We wanted to offer non-sporty people the opportunity to make a lasting change in their lives. Some participants applied themselves, and others were nominated by concerned friends and family," he says.
"I let things get on top of me ... but I do not want all that original hard work to be for nothing.
"My sister has just turned 60 and ran her first 10km race in Vancouver two weeks before her birthday. I am turning 55 this year so my pact is to do the DUAL, then run the Auckland Marathon 12km distance in November with my sister and brother-in-law," she says.
Life is beginning to look more positive for Buchowiecki.
"Now that I am part of the scholarship programme, I have weekly group training, daily reminders to keep me honest, and 11 other people all working towards the same goal.
"I really look forward to the weekly training sessions. Coach Claire Smith is absolutely fantastic: positive, and always there to give us feedback and support," she says.
Buchowiecki is strongly motivated to make good with the programme.
"I need to beat my 60-year-old sister in November," she grins.
DUAL Scholarship Programme
What: 17-week scholarship to event
Event: March 19, 2016
Where: Motutapu-Rangitoto Islands
For more information: www.thedual.co.nz