Multisport event raises $10,900 for charities

Oamaru’s Tim Rush (left) and Kaleb Hayes won the 2021 Whitehorse Big Easy team challenge. PHOTO:...
Oamaru’s Tim Rush (left) and Kaleb Hayes won the 2021 Whitehorse Big Easy team challenge. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
If every cloud has a silver lining, organisers of the Whitehorse Big Easy certainly found theirs yesterday.

The annual Waimate multisport event was all set to take place on February 28, but organisers were forced to postpone it at the last minute due to the change in Covid-19 alert levels announced on the night of February 27.

It was finally able to get under way yesterday.

The weather was "perfect", entry numbers were up, sponsorship was strong and "everything went very smoothly", Whitehorse Big Easy president Justin Chittock said.

"We’re pretty proud to be able to make the event happen," Mr Chittock said.

This year’s Whitehorse Big Easy was the fifth to be held. First held in 2017, it had grown a lot over the past four years, Mr Chittock said.

"The original event had about 200 [entries] . . . and now we’re looking at about 500 people — so we’ve more than doubled in size."

There was also more of a focus on attracting younger athletes, and the children’s 5km mountain bike race had been a hit this year.

"We’ve tried to focus a bit more on bringing the younger ones into the event to get them interested and keep them going as they get older," he said.

South of Christchurch there was nothing else like Whitehorse Big Easy — and it was "by no means easy".

"Because we’ve got the hills and the great network of tracks around community-wise, it’s bringing in a big crowd," he said.

As always, the Whitehorse Challenge teams event was fiercely contested, organising committee member Ryan Luckman said.

In the lead-up to the event, teams fundraise for their chosen charities through Givealittle pages, and for every dollar raised over $250, a second is shaved off their final time. About $10,900 was raised this year.

"So it’s not just the fastest team on the day — sponsorship comes into play," Mr Luckman said.

While there was a clear winner — Tim Rush and Kaleb Hayes, of Oamaru — just two minutes separated the teams from second to fourth place, and places changed due to fundraising efforts.

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