Hawke's Bay's newest event should be on every triathlete's bucket list, according to an Olympian.

Sam Bradley (nee Warriner) was the first woman across the Napier Port Harbour to Hills finish line on Sunday, completing the 2km swim, 95km cycle and 21km run in 4hr 58m 44s. She was third overall behind men's winner Jack Robinson (4:39:16) of Auckland and Nathan Martin (4:53:36).

Bradley was impressed with the new race which started with an ocean swim at Ahuriri before heading inland on the bike around the Tukituki Valley and finishing with a run along Marine Parade.

"I've travelled all around the world to some spectacular locations for races but [the] Napier Port Harbour to Hills would be the most stunning bike I've ridden. Rivers, bridges, orchards, vineyards, hills, long straights the course had it all - right here in New Zealand. The run on the boardwalk was beautiful too," she posted on Facebook.

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"This half ironman needs to be on your bucket list for next year," she said.

Triathlon Hawke's Bay general manager Mike Bond said the event was a "great success" with 400 athletes swimming, cycling and running.

Bradley was the first on the bike out of Napier, and at 60km was sitting in fourth overall behind strong Bay cyclists Brendon Vesty and Josh Page who have only recently taken up triathlon. Vesty was stopped by a puncture but quickly made up time.

Page was the first on to the run but Robinson soon had a commanding lead, running the 21km in just 1:27:55. Bradley overtook fourth placegetter Vesty on the run. Vesty's time was 5:02:59.

Hastings triathlete Karen Toulmin was the second woman home in 5:08:46, just four weeks after flipping off her mountain bike while racing in Motatapu.

Toulmin was descending at speed when she hit a rock, flew over the handlebars and landed on her shoulder, damaging the joint. The first two weeks after the accident she couldn't do much other than rest and heal. With the help of physio she slowly reintroduced swimming, cycling and running.

"I'm stoked with my performance. My swim was way off where I expected it to be but that was largely due to the conditions. l had a great bike and, like most, suffered a bit on the run due to the heat," she said.