After losing her motivation to exercise several years ago, Hastings resident Jess Keefe is getting back into gear by competing for the first time in the annual Country2Coast.

This weekend, she will be one of hundreds expected to walk, run, or cycle in the Hawke's Bay Today sponsored-event - the annual challenge on the Hawke's Bay trails that raises money for worthy causes at the same time.

With competitive and non-competitive options, participants can enter for an 8km or 15km walk or run, a 20km bike ride, or a more challenging 21.1km half marathon run.

For her first event, Ms Keefe chose to take on the 8km walk from Haumoana, to Farndon Park as part of her mission to get fit.


She said she had been very fit several years ago, as she and her best friend used to walk a lot together, including up Te Mata Peak every day.

However this changed in March 2015 when her friend, Sarah-Jo Manaena (nee Fitzsimons), was killed in a car crash.

"I lost my motivation there for awhile", Ms Keefe said, adding it had been hard to find it again without Ms Manaena encouraging her to make exercise a part of each day.

Now, she is getting back into gear. As the mother of two young children, a student, and working part-time, Ms Keefe said she had been "grabbing any time I can" to prepare for the event - such as waking early for power walks.

She said she had wanted to enter the event for the past couple of years, and had been encouraged by her family to do so.

"After hearing about it every year I wanted to do it, but every year I would come up with excuses," she said. "This year I just ran out of excuses really."

When she walks the 8km on Sunday, Ms Keefe said she was not planning on making a certain time, and had chosen to do it alone so she could focus on doing her personal best.

"As long as I get to the finish line," she said. "I really feel like this is the type of walk anyone can enter, if I can do it anyone can".


The event is a family affair - Ms Keefe's father, and aunt will be taking on the 15km event, and her grandfather is involved in the event's organisation.

Event director Kevin Longman said preparations for Sunday's event were coming along well, and he was looking forward to the big day.

Registrations were continuing to roll in, with an anticipated turnout of around 800, he said.

On Sunday all events will end at Farndon Park, where competitors and spectators participants can enjoy a "festival atmosphere" with music, entertainment and refreshments.

There will be spot prizes as well as six main prizes given away, including a cycle sponsored by iWay.

Money raised from the event is donated each year, and last year $7500 was distributed to organisations helping out Hawke's Bay communities.

It has not yet been decided which community organisations will receive funds this year.

-Registrations are due to close on Thursday, so get in quick and sign up on the Country2Coast website. Late registrations will be accepted on Saturday at the Havelock North Function Centre or at the Farndon Park late registration tent.

-The cost is $30 for adults aged over 13, $20 for children aged five to 12, children under five free.