SHARE
Pedal to the metal . . . Mountain bikers try out the track that will feature in the Papakaio 8hr MTB Challenge. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Organising Papakaio’s new eight-hour mountain bike challenge has brought the local school and wider community together in a special way, event spokeswoman Rebecca Finlay says.

Since October, teams of volunteers have been putting countless hours into designing and building new mountain biking tracks in Papakaio and organising the major fundraising event for Papakaio School, to be held on March 16.

Finlay said the course was no simple bike track on farm land.

“I think the assumption is it’s going to be sort of basic and just a loop around, when actually there’s some much more exciting stuff going on,” she said.

The track had been designed and built especially for the event by Brett Stuart, Craig Isbister and Grant Neal.

“They’ve all had, or have, children at Papakaio school and are mountain biking enthusiasts, especially Brett – I think he views the track as his legacy to the community,” Finlay said.

“They are up there every night pretty much and, according to an estimate of one of our track widows, Nicola Neal, Grant has probably spent between 60 and 70 hours on it and the others a good three to four times more, since October last year.

“We’ve also had several small working bees and three large working bees, with about 40 people.”

The course is 8km with 170m of elevation.

The winning team of four loops the most times around the course, which starts and finishes in Willow Park, in eight hours

“The track goes across land owned or leased by people and the community,” Finlay said.

She said organisers were hugely grateful for the support of Rogan and Michelle Borrie, Richard and Karen Willans and the Hurst family, who had allowed access to their properties to support the event.

“The door has always been open at Hurst Holdings and Willow Park for advice, coffee and a yarn throughout this process – we are very lucky,” she said.

The organising committee is made up of Home and School members, Finlay, Steve Collett, Nicola Neal, Hayley Easton, Rochelle Matthews and Enya Fischer – with guidance from Papakaio School principal Gary Shirley and Ian Elliott.

“It’s hard to say how much time we’ve put in as we’re snatching it around our jobs, businesses and families – let’s just say it will feel like a huge accomplishment and somewhat of a relief when its all over,” she said.

Since the start of the school year, they had received a “steady” stream of registrations.

So far, 25 teams of four had registered, and Finlay expected many more entries in the coming weeks.

The race is being professionally timed and adjudicated, offering a premiere mountain biking experience right here in Oamaru, Finlay said.

“We’re hoping to cater for the wide range of abilities that we expect on the day – hopefully there’s something for everyone,” she said.

The event takes place on March 16, running for eight hours – from 9am until 6pm.

Anyone interested in entering should email papakaio8hour@gmail.com for more information.