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Exciting year . . . Whitehorse Big Easy organising committee member Ryan Luckman is expecting the 2019 event to be bigger and better than ever before. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

The Whitehorse Big Easy is back for 2019.

In its third year, organisers of the Waimate multisport event hope to attract more than 500 competitors, and raise more than $20,000 for local charities, this year.

Depending on how hard entrants want to challenge themselves, the individual run/walk is broken down into three sections – 18km, 12km and 5km – the individual mountain bike categories are 13km, 20km, 27km and there is also a children’s race – a 1.5km run, walk or bike.

Whitehorse Big Easy organising committee member Ryan Luckman said the fiercest competition came in the form of the team challenge, where teams of two take on an 18km run and 27km mountain bike, with the added challenge of raising as much money as they can for a variety of local charities.

This year, each team had to raise at least $250 via a Givealittle page – with the added incentive of every dollar raised over $250 giving them one second off their race time.

As well as bragging rights, winners of the teams challenge would take home a “very coveted trophy”, Mr Luckman said.

The 2019 event looks a little different from previous years.

The start and finish line has been moved to Victoria Park and start times have been split for runners and bikers.

“The runners will start an hour and a-half earlier than the bikers,” Mr Luckman said.

“Mainly to do with safety on the course and .. it’s getting big enough now that it was starting to be difficult to have everyone all go off within five minutes.

“It’s going to be quite exciting, because of the split of the runner and biker, we’ll know during the bike leg exactly what times everyone is keeping to.”

The event was suitable for all ages and abilities, from the serious competitor to the “Sunday stroller”, Mr Luckman said.

Ages of competitors at last year’s event ranged from 2 years old to 86.

Apart from from starting and finishing at Victoria Park, Mr Luckman said the 18km running course was the same as previous years – and would be challenging, even for experienced runners.

“But accompanying the hills, it’s got amazing scenery once you get to the top of the Whitehorse,” he said.

On the bike, the course had changed slightly and competitors would have the opportunity to ride on tracks on private land.

“It’s a once-a-year opportunity to see some really cool new tracks,” he said.

“It’s non-technical, but you want a decent amount of fitness to do the 27km.

“Everyone will have fun – they’ll just have to work a bit to get uphill.”

Mr Luckman said it was a great opportunity to raise awareness of Waimate’s mountain bike scene and all the hard work volunteers had done to build and maintain tracks.

The Whitehorse Big Easy is being held on February 24.

Registrations are open now and information can be found at www.whitehorsebigeasy.co.nz.