For more than a decade Harriet Filer has acted as an enthusiastic volunteer at Kelloggs Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand but this year the mum-of-two will be on the other side of the fence having taken the plunge to finally compete in the iconic endurance challenge.
The Taupo primary school teacher first became involved in the event as a "support swimmer" before later working in a variety of roles including as bike marshal director for the past five years.
"There is no volunteer fatigue here and you find so many locals get behind and support the event," says Harriet. "The Ironman really puts little Taupo on the international map."
Yet as a former triathlete who also finished two half-ironman events before taking a competitive break to have children, Harriet often contemplated competing in the event and after being granted entry following her long-term volunteer service she opted to finally give Ironman New Zealand a crack.
"At the time my daughter was starting school, I was only worked part-time, everything aligned," she says. "All my friends and family encouraged me and said, 'this is the time'."
It was also Harriet's good fortune that she was approached by former Ironman New Zealand winner and two-time Olympian Sam Warriner to coach her and in May last year Harriet began her Ironman preparations,
A former World Masters Championship swimmer, Harriet has found training for cycling the greatest challenge, but thanks to the efforts of her coach she is on track to achieve her ambitions.
"Because of Sam's knowledge, I can trust her," says Harriet. "She has such great experience and even with a few hitches along the way (injury and illness), she has remained so positive and calm."
With the strong support of family, Harriet admits training up to 11 sessions six days a week has not been too overwhelming, although she admits also juggling family and work commitments has been demanding.
Yet what does she hope to achieve on the day?
"Sam always says you shouldn't have any expectations for your first Ironman," adds Harriet, 38. "A do have a time in my head, although I don't want to put it out there because I don't know what is going to happen on the day."
So, after years of experiencing Ironman New Zealand in a voluntary capacity has she pictured in her mind that moment when she crosses the finish line in Taupo?
"Oh, yes, is gives me shivers and goose bumps because I have wanted it for so long," she adds.