Breast cancer survivor Nikki Kaye's endurance will be pushed to the limits today in a race in which competitors run, swim and cycle around Motutapu and Rangitoto islands.
The National MP for Auckland Central took leave from her ministerial duties to undergo breast cancer treatment after she was diagnosed in September last year.
But Kaye's health battle hasn't stopped her. Having recently returned to Parliament she is now taking part in a 6km walk/run with about 204 metres of vertical climb at the Partners Life Dual event.
Kaye said the race was nothing compared with the challenge of facing cancer head on.
"It's a whole other ball game."
Kaye ran competitively at school, has completed several marathons and the Coast-to-Coast in both 2008 and 2013, races she described as "intense".
"I may enter Coast-to-Coast next year," said Kaye, who plans on doing half of the 243km challenge, namely kayaking and one of the cycling legs, with a partner.
"It would be a big thing, so I am just going to play it by ear. I am not going to put pressure on myself.
"The reality is I treat my body pretty preciously at the moment. I am easing back into it ... because of my health stuff," she said.
That includes walking most days "but not six kilometres. I keep thinking I'm taking it easy. My head says 'run this' but it's just not the same."
Kaye, whose electorate includes Motutapu Island and the Hauraki Gulf, is taking part in the event with Erica Stanford, selected by National to contest the East Coast Bays electorate in the general election, and about 30 supporters.
"It will be nice to have that support because I'm getting back into things."
The MP said she had had some great support throughout her cancer fight including meeting some "amazing women who have been through [cancer]. They're legends."
Kaye's sage advice to women suffering from cancer is: "Never give up, ever. No matter what the doctor says.
"Take time to invest in yourself. Make sure you have good people around you ... who you can talk to and hunt out other people who have been through it."
More than 2000 people have signed up to take part in the Partners Life Dual today.
The annual sporting event offers trail run and walk races, an off-road triathlon and mountain biking. It is the only time each year that mountain bikes are allowed to be taken over to the island.
In its nine years, the event has raised almost $300,000 for conservation and restoration work on Rangitoto and Motutapu by the Motutapu Restoration Trust.
About $40,000 is expected to be raised this year.