IronMaori organiser Heather Skipworth has a saying - "believe to achieve".

And that was what she witnessed over the weekend during two Ironmaori events - Friday's Kaumatua race, and Saturday's quarter race.

The annual event was created in 2009 as a way to tackle obesity and promote healthier lifestyles among Maori.

An "inspiring" weekend began early Friday morning, when older participants - some with walking frames and sticks - gathered at Pandora Pond, Napier, to take part in a number of short-distance swimming, walking, and running events.


Ms Skipworth said it satisfying watching those in the 55-plus age group getting active.

"People think once you get to that stage in life they're usually on the sidelines, watching their moko. But [on Friday] it was solely about them and them being encouraged," she said.

The "Magic Moment" event, where participants can walk between 100 and 200m took an unexpected twist when some refused to stop and continued on as far as 3km.

"They always exceed our expectations," Ms Skipworth said. "And they taught us a lesson not to underestimate their abilities."

On Saturday, just under 200,000 participants enjoyed a 1km swim, 45km cycle, and 10.5km run/walk for the Ironmaori quarter race from Pandora Pond.

Although organising and conducting the race was "full on", Ms Skipworth said seeing the impact the annual event was having year on year was very rewarding.

When the race began there were a couple of competitors over the age of 60, now a 70 and over group has been established. Previously, organisers would create several 5 times XL shirts - this year they printed 37.

"Some people would say that's not good," Ms Skipworth said. "But those 37 people have obviously taken the step to get started, and this event has created that pathway for them."

"It has people on the sidelines thinking they could do it too."