Hosting the Aoraki secondary schools mountain-biking championships again this year is “quite a feather in the cap” for Mountain Biking North Otago, president Marcus Brown says.

Tomorrow, Herbert Forest will be a hive of activity as up to 100 young mountain-bikers from across the Aoraki region compete for enduro and cross-country titles at the annual event.

“As usual, we’re pretty excited about it,” Brown said.

“It’s nice to be recognised as a place that people like to come.”

Mountain Biking North Otago has hosted the championships for several years. After previously being held at Cape Wanbrow, the event moved to Herbert Forest last year.

“It’s basically an easier location to manage. There’s more scope, and it’s probably technically more difficult as well.”

Entry numbers were limited to 100 this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, but that was about the same number the event usually attracted, Brown said.

Waitaki Boys’ High School and St Kevin’s College would be well represented this year.

The event was due to be held in September, but was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Without any clashes on the mountain-biking calendar now – a Central Otago event was also being held on the original date – Brown hoped some new competitors might be attracted to the event.

It was a good opportunity to promote the mountain-biking opportunities in North Otago to riders from around the Aoraki region.

Volunteers had been busy preparing the tracks for the event.

“We’ve done some [track building] almost especially for the event, to add some alternatives and sort of fine-tuning the cross-country track.

“So several of the volunteers have been really busy on that right the way through the winter.

“It’s a big effort, but it’s worthwhile and we enjoy doing it.”

Spectator numbers were limited at the event, and there would be no on-site catering.

“We’re obviously operating under a fairly strict protocol, which makes it challenging in its own way,” Brown said.

But he was pleased it could go ahead.

“Last year, we were under restrictions as well, so we’re almost getting used to it.”

The event starts tomorrow morning with the enduro event, followed by cross-country in the afternoon.