The Danseys Pass Trail Ride managed to successfully navigate Covid-19 for two years.
The 20th anniversary event in 2020 was held just before the first Level 4 lockdown, and last year’s went off without a hitch at Level 1. But uncertainty about the Omicron outbreak and how long the country will be at the Red traffic light setting has forced organisers to cancel this year’s event scheduled for March 19.
The Danseys Pass Trail Ride is the longest one-day trail ride in Australasia, and has been held annually since 2000 as Duntroon School’s major fundraiser. It attracts more than 1000 riders and raises between $40,000 and $70,000 for the school each year.
Danseys Pass Trail Ride committee chairman Nathan McLachlan said this year’s event was shaping up to be one of the best, after attracting Honda as a major sponsor and receiving grants from Meridian and Network Waitaki.
‘‘It was quite exciting — we had quite a cool set-up — so we were really looking forward to that,’’ Mr McLachlan said.
‘‘It was going to be a good year for the school.’’
Organisers were feeling the same disappointment and frustration all of the entrants were about the cancellation, he said.
‘‘Really, it was just coming down to the crunch time now, where we really start spending the money.
‘‘So we just we just had to make a call whether we thought it would go or not . . . we just needed some clarity for everyone.’’
The trail ride was growing in popularity each year. In 2021, it attracted about 1200 riders, approximately 95% of whom came from outside the area.
‘‘That’s actually the success of the event because it’s people coming from outside, but that’s also the risk of the event, as well, people coming from outside the community.’’
Organisers were almost all from the farming community, and it was important to limit the spread of Covid-19 due to the impact the virus and isolation would have on farming businesses and the wider rural community at a busy time of year, he said.
‘‘We’re all running farm businesses, and if we all have to go into isolation on our farms and then lock our families up in the houses as well, it’s just a difficult one, isn’t it?’’
The committee was confident the trail ride would be back next year, bigger and better than ever, and had locked it in for March 18, 2023.
Duntroon School principal Mike Turner said while it was disappointing, cancelling the event was the ‘‘sensible thing to do in the current climate’’.
‘‘We need to keep people safe and do what we can to limit the spread of Covid within the community.’’
Mr McLachlan thanked the riders, landowners, volunteers, and sponsors, companies and community groups who had supported the event.
‘‘We couldn’t do without all those, really. It’s a whole community event.’’