IT started with 35 scared teams in 2010 now the Kawerau Six Hour Adventure Race attracts hundreds of competitors.
The seventh edition of the race was held on Saturday and race organiser Edwina O’Brien said more than 350 teams took part.
The race, held in the Tarawera Forest, included mystery activities as teams navigated to checkpoints on foot and on mountainbikes. Teams were given details of the course on race day.
“It seems like so long ago we started with 35 scared teams for the first race. Including the supporters we probably had around 420 out there on Saturday. That is probably our maximum.
“We don’t want to lose that feel and keep it to a friendly, safe and happy race.
“We have had great feedback and health and safety is a high priority for us. We had search and rescue on board again and they are invaluable.”
The course again had the hallmarks of adventure and multisport guru Neil Jones in providing a challenging event.
“It all comes down to volunteers, it doesn’t happen without them and we certainly couldn’t do it without Neil.
“He takes a lot of time out to put it together.
“Teams went on the backside of Mangawhakamana, which took us a week to cut.
“We took the beginners up to the 500-metre mark and they responded so well to a tough challenge.
“The advanced teams went up to 700m and we were thrilled to see people push themselves beyond their boundaries.”
Scoring a whopping 9275 points was the team of Dean Sisson, Scott Christie, Rhonda Good and Jason Good as they won the four-person mixed category.
Craig Julian and Austin Oliver won the male two-person section with 9200 points – level with two-person mixed category winners Karen Hanlen and Gordon Townsend.
Also impressive were secondary school year 10-13 section winners Oak Jones, Jason Bond, Gavin Bird and Sam Weise who scored 9175.
Tui Hambrook and Rochelle Molloy took out the two-person female section with 8700.
O’Brien said a lot of things had to come together to make the race a success including land owners and a large buy in from the schools.
The school section was restricted to only four-person teams this year and O’Brien said she had good feedback from teachers about the change.
“Whakatane Great Outdoors were also great for us again. We had $12,000 worth of prizes. This event has become more than just a race.
“Once we have covered out costs, if there is money leftover we can support athletes who may need it in different sports.
“The event is also a great way to showcase Kawerau and its people.
“Every year we look at ways to enhance the race, at Friday’s briefing we were talking about what we can do next year.”
But that, of course, will remain a secret among the few until next year.