In Gear | Rotary in Southern New Zealand In Gear - Issue 3 - Page 48

A flying start The weather couldn’t have been better – or the community reception warmer – for the inaugural Whitehorse Big Easy event, held in Waimate on April 9. Around 450 competitors, aged from two to 80, plus supporters and a crew of volunteers, converged on the Waimate A & P Showgrounds for the start of the multi-event race. Drawing a field from Hanmer Springs to Invercargll, and even an overseas competitor, event day kicked off with the 25km and 13km mountain bikers. With a slight course change (thanks to Cyclone Debbie), the bikers were set with a challenging ride that left them muddy, but happy. The 18km and 12km walkers and runners followed, but, with 100 competitors, the biggest event was the 5km walk and run. The final event was the 1.5km kids’ run or bike. Inaugural Whitehorse Big Easy winners Brett Farmer and Tim Harrison with Ryan Luckman, of the Rotary Club of Waimate. The ‘Whitehorse Challenge’ was a ‘race within a race’, with each member of the two-person teams tackling either the 25km bike or 18km run. Twenty teams entered, each having to raise $500 for nominated charities to compete, ultimately reaching nearly $15,000 in total. But how does one small-town Rotary club take the kernel of an idea for a fundraiser in an event market that’s considered pretty much saturated already, get the whole community along for the ride, and stage its first event to rave reviews … all within just 12 short months? Here, Rotary Club of Waimate Community Services director Ryan Luckman explains the journey, and passes on the tips, lessons and insight gathered along the way for other clubs to ponder.