Smooth ride . . . Papakaio 8-hour Committee chairman Ricky Hutchison and spokesperson Becca Finlay are confident this year's mountain bike event, planned for February 12, will be a sell-out.

Despite Papakaio 8-hour Mountain Bike Challenge registrations being slower than other years, organisers are confident it will still be sold out when race day rolls around.

The event, which involves team members or individuals completing as many rounds of a 9km loop track as they can over eight hours, has been a successful major annual fundraiser for Papakaio School since 2019, although the 2020 event had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

This year’s challenge is scheduled for February 12, the same weekend as the Coast to Coast race — a highlight on the national multi-sport calendar — but Papakaio 8-Hour committee spokeswoman Becca Finlay said this was unlikely to be affecting entry numbers.

‘‘It ran at the same time as Coast to Coast last year,’’ Mrs Finlay said.

‘‘We were going to clash with something, so I guess it was about picking a weekend that clashed with an event that was least like what we do.

‘‘So, the one that we were really keen to avoid was Motutapu, or the Whitehorse Big Easy, or anything kind of like that in Otago, that is for amateur or sort of beginner bikers through to slightly more competitive, but not ultra-competitive.’’

They also had to work in with the dairy farm operating atIan and Gloria Hurst’s Willow Park, where the event was being held.

‘‘Because it’s all on private land, so we need to find a time that works.’’

Looking ahead . . . Papakaio 8-Hour committee chairman Ricky Hutchison and spokeswoman Becca Finlay are confident they will be running another successful event.

Earlybird entries closed at the end of the month, and Mrs Finlay was confident it would be a sell-out by February 12 and there would be a good vibe on race day.

The event would be operating under the Covid-19 traffic light system, and all riders, or anybody else attending the event, including vendors, were required to be vaccinated and would need to show a vaccine pass, she said.

‘‘We definitely had a conversation around whether we wanted to continue holding the event under those regulations, because we didn’t know if we felt comfortable running events that excluded people based on those choices, and excluded members of our community.

‘‘So that conversation definitely happened around the committee table, but we decided that we weren’t gaining anything by just not running it.

‘‘So we’re going ahead, and we’ll miss those key people, but we’re really looking forward to holding something that in the past has brought our community and extended community together and is a fun physical thing to do.’’

There had been a number of contingency plans in place, if the day had been forced to run under Level 2 restrictions, so it was a relief to be operating within the traffic light system.

‘‘Apart from checking vaccine passes on arrival, Papakaio 8-hour will look as it did last year, which is awesome . . . So the protection framework definitely gives us the scope to hold the kind of event that we want, it’s just a shame that some people are unable to attend.’’

The bulk of the money raised from the event would go towards funding additional teacher aids for the school, Mrs Finlay said.