Hawke's Bay's Naomi Fergusson will have her ribs strapped as she approaches the start line at the Harbour to Hills Multisport festival tomorrow.

"I got hurt playing with the kids," she said with a laugh.

Fergusson, 40, who is among the favourites in the 40-44 age group for the Suzuki Aqua Bike National Championship 2km swim and 125km cycle event and is also hoping for a top five women's overall finish has been no stranger to injuries over the years. She has had five different surgeries and in 2017 broke the same elbow twice within seven weeks.

In 2012 she broke her hand during her buildup to the Auckland-hosted world champs but still competed.


"My training mates reckon I'm pretty clumsy."

Despite the high risk of injury Fergusson, a four-time representative at world championship level as well as a Half Ironman competitor in Hawaii and Australia is eyeing qualification for the ITU Multisport World Championships in The Netherlands in September. That event will involve a 3.8km swim and 180km cycle.

"I've got family in the United Kingdom who I would love to see so it would be good to combine the worlds with those visits," Fergusson said.

Should Hastings District Council communications adviser Fergusson win the open women's title tomorrow she will receive a fully paid package to The Netherlands. Partly paid packages are available to age group category winners and podium placegetters in the open age group.

"Samantha Bradley [nee Warriner] has entered. I'll be chasing her all day," Fergusson said referring to the open women's title winner at the inaugural Harbour to Hills in 2017.

Bradley, 48, represented New Zealand in triathlons ranging from sprint distance up to full Ironman. She was second at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, third at the ITU world championships in Vancouver, won the 2008 ITU World Cup and collected bronze in the 2007 ITU World Cup.

Fergusson and Bradley will be among 20 competitors in the open women's section of their event and Fergusson is one of eight in her age group. More than 360 competitors are expected to front during the two-day festival.

Fergusson, who did her first triathlon in 2003, is relishing her return to this level after stepping back in 2012 to focus on family commitments. She is the mother of 5-year-old Zara and 17-month-old Isla.


"There's a lot of juggling with my amount of training between work and commitments with the kids. Often I'm coming back from training and Scott is going out the door for his squash games," Fergusson said referring to her hubby.

"The kids still have to be bathed, fed and have stories read to them. I wouldn't have it any other way," Fergusson explained.

"Although there will be times on Sunday when I will be questioning life's choices."

A Sport Hawke's Bay board member and Triathlon Hawke's Bay committee member, Fergusson, competed in the 2km swim and 95km cycle of last year's Harbour to Hills. She was the third placed woman overall and has been increasing her training schedules since then.

At the peak of her training in the past Fergusson would put in between 12 and 15 hours each week. These days she can do up to 10 hours.

"If I can hit the seven hour mark I'm happy. But there are plenty of two and five hour weeks. Because I trained hard in my earlier years it gave me a base and I can get through with less training now," Fergusson explained.

"Having two kids at home is good motivation to get out and train," Fergusson said with another laugh.

It's obvious she knows there is less chance of her children injuring her at home when she is out training.

She is aiming for a time between four-and-a-half and five hours tomorrow. Along with Bradley, Aucklander Melanie Giles, the 2018 overall women's title winner will be another out of towner to watch in the open women's category.

Fergusson pointed out Hawke's Bay has numerous "iconic events" to help triathletes prepare for events like this weekend's festival. In October she was a member of the winning women's team in the Bay's Cape Challenge.

"We've got great training venues too. During the summer holidays I based myself out at Waipatiki where I did a lot of cycling. That Waipatiki Hill and I became good friends."

The Napier Port-sponsored festival will include two national championship events this weekend. They are the Suzuki-sponsored Aquathlon National Championship (1km swim, 5km run) and the event Fergusson will tackle tomorrow. Both are qualifiers for the Netherlands.

The festival is centred around a destination triathlon set in picturesque venues of Hawke's Bay. Now in its fourth year, it has expanded to a two-day affair.

Auckland veteran triathlete Garth Barfoot and Triathlon New Zealand's support means the first overall male and female winners in the aqua bike nationals race will receive flights and accommodation subsidies to the world championship in accordance with the Tri NZ Team selection and eligibility rules.

The Napier Port Ocean swims (Kids Give it a Go 300m; and 1km and 2km distances) and the feature event of the middle-distance triathlon add to the flavour.

Starting with a sheltered 2km Pacific Ocean swim from the beach at Perfume Point with the Mahia Peninsula and Napier Port as its backdrop, athletes will head out on a 95km bike which begins with views of Cape Kidnappers to the left before heading inland and around the stunning Tuki Tuki Valley. It concludes with a 21.1km run along the Rotary Pathway and Marine Parade featuring many of Napier's attractions, including Pania of the Reef, Veronica Sunbay, Napier Soundshell, Sunken Gardens, Millennial Arch Sculpture and Spirit of Napier.

The Triathlon HB-run festival, which has the support of Napier City Council and Triathlon NZ, will have support stations throughout the course and an event village packed with entertainment and complimentary food for all finishers.

■ 7.30am: Kids Give it a Go 300m ocean swim (Beach Wave start).
■ 7.55am: Swim course closed for 300m kids.
■ 8am: 1km and 2km ocean swim (Beach Wave start).
■ 8.55am: Swim course closed for 1km & 2km ocean swim.
■ 9am: Aquathlon males (beach start)
■ 9.05am: Aquathlon females (beach start).
■ 9.35am: Swim course closed for aquathlon nationals.
■ 10.30am: Run course closed for aquathlon nationals.
■ 11am: Prize giving East Pier Hotel.
■ 6.56am: Karakia for opening of event.
■ 7am: All triathlon male individuals, aquabike males (beach start).
■ 7.05am: All triathlon female individuals, aquabike females (beach start).
■ 7.10am: All team swimmers (beach start).
■ 8.20am: Swim cut off for individuals and aquabike.
■ 8.30am: Swim cut off for team swimmers
■ 12.30pm: Cycle cut off for individuals.
■ 12.40pm: Cycle cut off for teams.
■ 1.45pm: Cycle cut off aquabike.
■ 3.30pm: Run course closed for individuals.
■ 3.40pm: Run course closed for teams.
■ 4pm: Prizegiving at event village Perfume Point Reserve.