Having been an organiser and watched on from the sideline, Hastings' Heather Skipworth has always wanted to compete in an Iron Maori event - and now she finally can.

The men are bowing out while the women step up to the mark in Hawke's Bay's first Iron Maori women's duathlon in August.

"I've been trying to participate for three years," Mrs Skipworth said, so she decided the men could run the event for a change. "I'm a bit precious about letting go of thereins, but I'm really confident in Lee that he can take the reins by himself."

Lee Grace usually organises the Iron Maori events with Mrs Skipworth and Missy Mackey.


He said taking control of this one on his own would be a little busier and more tiring but was looking forward to the challenge.

"I'm quite happy, it will be exciting. There's space for it and it opens up another event which hopefully will appeal to people who would not otherwise do multisport."

Mrs Skipworth said several men had put their hands up to pitch in and groups were planning to travel to Hawke's Bay from Auckland, Taumaranui, Palmerston North and Wellington for race day. Competitors from throughout the country were signing up too.

A free 10-week training programme put together by Iron Maori ambassador Kevin Nicholson goes live today and while it encourages women to engage in regular exercise the keen participant said the event was really a celebration of women.

"I think it's quite unique," she said.

"Women just do so much and it's to celebrate just them.

"The interest is pretty huge for these events."

There are three options available for participants with an individual race of a 5km run/walk, 12.5km cycle and 2.5km run/walk. A two-person team can also complete this, with one of the members completing two of the disciplines, and there is also an individual 5km run/walk.

Not only are the blokes helping to run the event, but some prominent Hawke's Bay men, yet to be announced, will be assuming the role of lead dancers in an aerobics warm-up on the day.

The event has come about after Mrs Skipworth received a number of requests from the public following the discontinuation of the Kellogg's Special K women's duathlon some years ago.

The event will be held at Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park and will start at 9am.

It is open to all ages and a number of generational teams have already signed up, adding to the significance of the day.

Mr Grace said he was planning for about 500 people, with room to expand.

- For more information see http://ironmaori.com/ironevents/hawkes-bay-womens-duathlon/.