Big crowd for trail races


The Moonshine Trail offered the annual chance for serious and social athletes to traverse Southland’s Hokonui Hills on Saturday.

Almost 400 competitors lined up to run or mountain bike challenging but achievable courses, over distances ranging from 5km to 50km.

The majority of this Sport Southland-run event is held on private farmland, accessible only during the event. The Moonshine Trail lived up to its promotion as a great day out for the whole family, and  serious to social athletes were all well catered for.

There was a distance and age group category to suit everybody and  a category for electric bicycles.

A notable achiever on Saturday was Richard Ford, of Bannockburn, who won the 15km run section for the fourth year in succession.

Praising the course, which takes in the picturesque Hokonui hills near Dolamore Park, Ford said he was pretty happy with his run, which took him just over an hour, and he loved the "technical" trail.

"This course is amazing. It’s nice and technical [and] it’s pretty special," he said.

Tim O’Leary won the 50km mountain bike race and Ronel Cook was the first female home in the 50km ride. Brett Strachan was first home in the 39km mountain bike leg and Tania McClean the first female.

In the 30km mountain bike, Xander Marsh was the first male home and Ann Grant the first female.

Austin Leith won the duathlon of a 30km ride and 5km run. In the running events, Donna Rutherford was first home in the 15km event while Connall McLean and Kimberley Iversen were winners in the 5km run/walk.

Sport Southland events manager Matt Sillars said this year’s event had been a great success.

Fantastic weather and a great number of competitors combined to make it a memorable day.

- By John Langford

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