Waimate’s Whitehorse Big Easy organisers are pushing ahead with plans for this year’s event — for now.
While it was an uncertain time after New Zealand moved to the Red traffic light setting at 11.59pm on Sunday, chairman Justin Chittock said the committee was determined to make the event go ahead on the scheduled date of April 10, if it could.
Members would meet next week to create a plan.
First held in 2017, the annual multisport event had traditionally been held in February, but last year’s was postponed to April due to a change in Covid-19 alert levels announced on February 27, the night before it was scheduled to start.
This year, the committee decided to stick with the April date, as 2021’s rescheduled event had attracted more participants.
If it can go ahead in April this year, the sixth Whitehorse Big Easy will have a raft of changes.
The longest mountain bike course was being increased from 27km to 30km, and the children’s from 5km to 7km. The 18km running course had been upgraded to a 21km halfmarathon and organisers expected this change to increase entry numbers.
‘‘There’s a lot more people doing [half-marathons]; we’re just trying to appeal for that market.’’
The 5km run/walk was always popular, as was the mountain bike course, and entries from younger athletes had also taken off, Mr Chittock said.
‘‘For me it’s more about that community focus . . . and getting kids involved.’’
The committee was focused on involving schools in Waimate by having trophies and prizes, and was introducing a challenge for children’s teams to raise money for their schools.
The multisport event attracted people from around the South Island and had a particularly strong following in Canterbury and Southland.
‘‘People are understanding what we’ve got on offer and seeing how different it is to any other event,’’ Mr Chittock said.
‘‘Naming it the ‘Big Easy’, everyone thinks it’s easy, but it’s not . .. they find out the event is quite difficult.’’
It was also benefiting the wider Waimate community and businesses, and Mr Chittock said the feedback he received following last year’s event was great.
‘‘Basically, for me, the further afield we can draw people in, the better it is both for the event and for the community.’’
He hoped registrations for this year’s event would open next month.