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More the merrier . . . The number of riders is no longer restricted for the Five Forks Foothills Trail Ride taking place this weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Five Forks Foothills Trail Ride is hanging in there and organisers are determined to push on with the school fundraiser, if they can.

With community cases of Omicron rapidly on the rise, and strict regulations in place concerning running events under the Red traffic light setting, the situation would be assessed weekly, organising committee spokeswoman Jane Smith said.

‘‘We will obviously be following all the Covid regulations — so that is having groups of 100 people separated in different pods, and that’s the way they will stay all day,’’ Mrs Smith said.

Each pod would have separate toilet facilities, while vaccine passes were compulsory, and would be checked before people entered the Raupo Creek Rd venue.

The set-up being put in place for the March 5-6 event meant up to 400 riders per day could be accommodated, she said.

‘‘That’s probably on the higher side of where we’ve been before as well. Also, spreading it over two days is a good thing . . .that also probably decreases numbers.’’

The hard decision had been made not to offer food, but it was also ‘‘pretty clear-cut’’ and meant less contact between the ‘‘helper community’’ and the riders.

Bringing their own food was a concession the committee hoped riders would be happy to make, in order for the event to go ahead, after so many had been cancelled.

‘‘People are really . . .keen to, one, follow the regulations; and two, to be in a safe environment and still have the event,’’ Mrs Smith said.

The committee was keeping in close contact with the Ministry of Health, planned to reassess the situation weekly, and provide updates on any changes.

‘‘Certainly if there was a Covid case or isolation affecting our immediate community, then we would not hesitate to cancel it.’’

Organising the 15-year event under the circumstances had added extra stress, but everybody understood they would have to ‘‘jump through a lot of extra hoops’’ to run it.

‘‘We will just do what we need to do to have a safe event, and particularly because it’s a school event, we are totally adhering to the regulations.

‘‘It used to just be the weather you used to worry about. Gosh, that would be lovely, wouldn’t it, just having to worry about that?’’

Because people were on motorbikes, riding on 45km of outdoor track, with helmets and other protective gear on, and not really there to socialise, the ministry was happy with it going ahead, Mrs Smith said.

It was an opportunity for people to see countryside they had not seen, on land they would not usually be allowed on.

‘‘It’s really hard for people to get farm access now, and this is a real chance to do that.’’

Rider categories were peewee, junior/family, intermediate and advanced. Preregistrations would not open until later in the month, due to the evolving situation.

Organisers were not new to running the trail ride under Covid regulations, having been required to pivot suddenly last year, when the country went into Level 2 one week prior .

‘‘We just got on with it, and we know we’ve got the team around us to do it. It shows the strength of your team under duress, if you can organise something like this, and make it a really good event,’’ Mrs Smith said.

‘‘We’re just cautious but optimistic, and that’s where we’re at.’’

More information and updates on the Five Forks Foothills Trail Ride can be found on the Facebook page or at fiveforkstrailride.co.nz.