Almost there . . . Whitehorse Big Easy committee members Ryan Luckman, and Raewyn Francis had to postpone last weekend's milestone fifth birthday of the event due to the shift to Alert Level 2. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

The course was marked out, Victoria Park was set up for race day, competitors had started to pick up their race packs – and then a 9pm press conference was called by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The sports calendar was turned upside down on Sunday as events across the country, including Waimate’s Whitehorse Big Easy, were put on hold as Covid-19 restrictions came into play, following the discovery of a new case in the community.

Whitehorse Big Easy organising committee member Ryan Luckman said it was “gutting” to postpone the fifth-annual cycle and running race just hours before it was set to start.

“It was all ready to go,” Mr Luckman said.

“It was going to be our biggest event yet.”

But with more than 450 entrants – and another 100 more expected to sign up on the day – it was well over the 100-person limit under Alert Level 2 restrictions.

“There was no option,” he said.

“A few texts and emails went out, but there wasn’t much of a choice to be made.”

The response from competitors had been “amazing”.

“They’ve been really supportive of the decision.”

The organising committee had decided to “wait and see” what happened this week before making a decision on an alternative date to run the event or to postpone it further.

“We’ll regroup probably after [the next] announcement, together as a committee, and work out a plan, but our top choice would be if we could hold the event this year.

“We’ll just have to wait to see how this cluster is panning out.”

How soon a rescheduled event could be held would depend on traffic management options.

“As soon as we know that, we’ll have a better idea on how quickly we can relaunch it.

“Watch this space.”

The committee was also working through refund and deferral options. All of the entry fees and funds raised for charities would be held until a final plan had been made, he said.

On Sunday, the organising committee went to Victoria Park and took everything down.

A few keen athletes went out on the Big Easy tracks, recording their own Strava runs and bike rides.