Hamilton kaumātua have been proving that age is just a number at the annual kaumātua triathlon held this year at Hamilton Girls' High School (HGHS).
The event was organised by the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust (RKCT) that teamed up with HGHS when this year's IronMāori Kaumātua in Napier was cancelled due to Covid-19.
RKCT Health Team manager Kath Holmes says: "We had 31 participants in total on the day, the oldest being 80 years old."
The triathlon has been held over the same distance as the IronMāori: 150m swim, 7km bike and 3km walk or run. Kaumātua could also choose to do a team triathlon, duathlon, a 10km bike ride or 3km hikoi (walking).
Holmes says many of the participants are those who normally travel to Napier as part of the Rauawaawa IronMāori Kaumātua team.
"Kaumātua who couldn't go to the IronMāori can now participate in this event. It is fantastic that Hamilton Girls' High have come on board to help us provide an alternative event and bridge the intergenerational gap between kaumātua and rangatahi," she says.
Around 50 students were involved in the triathlon to support the elderly, counting their rounds and showing them the route to bike.
Winston Kerr at 80 was the oldest contestant. After walking through the finish line, supported by two HGHS students, he says: "I feel buggered, but happy. Last year the cycling was cancelled, so I was determined to do all three disciplines this year – which I did now!"
His knee is not the best, he says, so he found the running or walking part the hardest.
The first to finish the triathlon were Waati Greening and George Kana, both 70 years old and Hamilton-based.
"We ran and walked six kilometres every day from Monday 'til Friday to prepare for today. It's all about the journey and the fun," says Kana.
The Kaumātua Triathlon included a prize giving dinner, dance and live entertainment.