There has been a slight gear change for the Papakaio 8-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge, but organisers have not put the brakes on the event completely.
At a time when sporting events nationwide are being cancelled or postponed, due to community spread of Covid-19, and the subsequent Red traffic light setting, the Papakaio 8-Hour Committee is confident the February 12 race day can go ahead, albeit in a reduced capacity.
Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Finlay said when the Government announced its intention to implement a traffic light system, the committee put contingency plans in place to be able to run the Papakaio School fundraiser at all settings.
‘‘As a committee, obviously we were really hopeful we would be holding 8-Hour in an orange or green light, but we were ready with this contingency — being a race-only event, capped at 100 people,’’ Mrs Finlay said.
‘‘Since the announcement’s been made that we were going to Red, there have been some details that we’ve had to iron out . . .around exactly what the rules are, but we feel like we’ve got a really good handle on that now, so we can run the event completely in accordance with Ministry [of Health] guidelines.’’
Rider numbers would be capped at 100, and a barbecue would be operating, and there would still be a bar area.
While it would not be the community event that had been ‘‘the hallmark’’ of past years, the group felt lucky to be able to scale the event down, when organisers of larger events could not.
‘‘People won’t be able to drop in and have a beer and watch a few laps, and we’re really sorry that that’s the case, but we live in hope of a time when it isn’t.
‘‘In the meantime, we’re going to keep riding our bikes and invite people to come and enjoy the amazing track. It deserves to be ridden and enjoyed.’’
There were limited spaces available for riders wanting to enter the event, which entailed riding a 9km loop track solo or in teams, for eight hours.
‘‘Initially we thought we could only have 100 people, but we’ve clarified that a little more with the ministry, and it turns out that the volunteers don’t count in the 100, and can count as staff. So now we’ve got space for 100 riders, which is really exciting . . .so yeah, we’re still at this stage, encouraging registrations.’’
The night a social media post announced the race would go ahead at Red, four more teams entered, which showed the support for the decision, she said.
‘‘We knew that we had a contingency plan in place, so we were able to move forward quite quickly. But also, we wanted people that were maybe smarting from the disappointment of not being able to do things like Coast to Coast, that they had something positive that they could jump on.
‘‘Also, we knew if we didn’t make an announcement, that riders would be contacting us, so we figured communicating promptly was a good course of action.’’
The committee could only make decisions based on the information it had at the time, and although it was maybe a ‘‘contentious issue’’, the current information ‘‘points very definitely towards us being able to run this event’’, she said.
‘‘There’s a lot of fear about what’s going to happen when Covid arrives in our community, and with fear comes emotion, and so, although this is used a lot, I think being kind to each other is the best thing we can do.’’
As a school fundraiser, run by parents, pushing on with the event was also demonstrating resilience and adaptability to their children, Mrs Finlay said.
Registrations for riders and support closes on February 10. As of Wednesday, there was only space for one more team.