The day started challenging with a cold southerly wind and a smattering of rain, but the Kāpiti Women's Triathlon went off without a hitch.

A large number of competitors took part in the Kapiti Women's Triathlon held at Raumati Beach on Sunday. A total of 475 women registered for the event, one of the longest running women's only events in New Zealand.

"The day started quite challenging, it was cold and windy and a bit rainy, so I guess we were a bit worried at first," said event director Evelyn Williams.

"But it did sort itself out which was a relief because the weather has such a big impact on people's experience.

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"It's a big orchestra to conduct and it ran really well.

"It's a great celebration of our community."

Carolyn Baum on the bike. Photo / David Haxton
Carolyn Baum on the bike. Photo / David Haxton

Dating back to 1983 the event aims to encourage women and girls to get out and have a go, focusing on fun, fitness and health.

Its moto is to inspire, motivate and participate.

A variety of swim, cycle, walk or run options were available for competitors of all shapes and sizes, all ages and abilities exemplified by Janet Wallace, the oldest participant at age 79.

"It's wonderful to see everyone enjoying themselves and go from thinking 'why am I here' to having all that fall away and celebrate at the finish line.

"It's especially cool seeing all the kids seeing their mums doing what mums can do.

"Everyone has their own journey, their own goals and you've just got to stand back, watch and respect that."

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Georgie Heffernan gives the thumbs up on the final leg. Photo / David Haxton
Georgie Heffernan gives the thumbs up on the final leg. Photo / David Haxton

The Kapiti Women's Triathlon is not possible without the support of the community, local businesses and many volunteers.

"We would like to say thank you to the community for their support.

"It's one day a year where some motorist had to wait to get places, we respect some people had a bit of inconvenience, but the difference it makes to so many lives trumps that.

"Our message to the community is thanks for your patience, thanks for being involved and letting it happen, and thanks to the local businesses that contributed."


Kāpiti News reporter Rosalie Willis shares her experience

I was inspired by the stories of these women.

Anouk Alexander who went from an office worker's life — commuting into Wellington and sitting at a desk all day to completing half ironmans after beginning with the KWT.

Jan-Maree Brown who had never exercised in her adult life and a heavy smoker who signed up for the KWT and has since represented New Zealand in triathlon and completed 50 ironmans.

Writing their stories and sharing them with the community in the lead-up to the event, these women started out like any other, with a goal and determination to achieve it.

So I signed up too.

What better way to try something new and challenge myself than do it with hundreds of other ladies also putting themselves out there.

Arriving in Raumati on Sunday morning I tried not to look too closely at the sea — the swimming was my biggest hurdle having never done ocean swimming before.

But at the race briefing when the event director asked who was participating for the first time, it looked like at least a third of us put our hands up.

'Okay I can do this,' I thought to myself.

On the hooter we all pounded into the sea and I zigzagged my way through the swim. Note for next time - learn to swim straight.

Transitioning from the swim to the bike was more straight forward than I thought and soon I was off, zooming towards Paraparaumu.

Locals came out of their houses to watch with the best motivation being five-year-old kids cheering you down the road.

Borrowing a road bike was the best idea I could have had, and before I knew it I was running alongside Wharemauku Stream.

With legs that felt like lead, the run became almost enjoyable as participants encouraged each other on.

Almost dislocating my shoulder hi-fiving a friend with the most solid hi-five as we passed each other in opposite directions, I pushed on, eventually coming out at Marine Gardens to a packed finish line.

The support from friends, partners, parents and the community was far above what I expected.

Watching and being part of an event with so many women of all abilities participate was inspiring, but so to was seeing the community in action - inspiring, motivating and participating.

I will be back next year.