Inspired by the efforts of other Rotarians within District 9980, the Rotary Club of Waimate is putting the pedal to metal with a major new multi-sport event – the “Whitehorse Big Easy”.
Designed to bring the community together, boost the local economy, encourage fitness and raise some funds for good to boot.

The club’s Community Services director, Ryan Luckman, says the Big Easy, which is set down for April 9, will double as both the official launch for Waimate’s new shared cycling, running and walking trail on Whitehorse Hill, and a Rotary fundraiser.

The new development sits by the famous concrete horse that overlooks the township and is the work of Waimate’s Whitehorse Mountainbike Club, headed by local Rotarian, and former club president, Ken Buckingham.  

“Ken and the mountainbike club have done a fantastic job getting these new tracks looking amazing, and they’re now ready to let the world know about them,” Ryan says.

“As a club, we’ve financially supported the trail’s development, and we think combining a launch and a high-interest sporting event – which we hope will become an annual fixture – is a perfect fit for our club, and also sits really well with Rotary’s wider aims in terms of community support and promoting health.

“Putting the effort into developing a key event we can hold each year seemed like a good way to both raise money for Rotary’s causes and shine the spotlight on what is a fantastic new community facility that’ll be great for Waimate and a drawcard for visitors, too.”

The event’s been carefully planned to appeal to a wide audience – there’s a cycle section where competitors can take on an intermediate and advanced mountainbiking course, a run-walk event, or a team competition: ‘The Whitehorse Challenge’.

‘The Whitehorse Challenge’, Ryan says, draws directly on ideas and support from other Rotarians.

In August’s edition of In Gear, Rotary Club of Dunedin Central member and District 9980 Public Image chair Vicki Moseley shared her experiences taking a cycling fundraiser that had previously raised a few thousand dollars, to an event that brought in nearly $70,000 by implementing a well-thought-out publicity strategy and making the most of targeted promotional tools and techniques.

The teams’ event, which will see one competitor cycle a leg, and their teammate run another, takes on Vicki’s advice, Ryan says. Limited to 40 teams, each must fundraise at least $500 via a dedicated page on crowdfunding site givealittle. Proceeds will go directly to a Rotary community initiative.  

“The last In Gear magazine has been instrumental in the development of the ideas for this event – Vicki’s Hospice fundraiser was the inspiration for the teams’ event with the givealittle fundraising.”

Together with the mountainbike club, Ryan and his organising team are working closely with the Waimate Toc-H Harriers on the course design for the running and walking event.

“In all, Rotarians are overseeing the whole event, and co-ordinating the preparatory logistics, and event management, so it’s a big job, especially being the first year.

“A lot, though, is one-off groundwork that will give us a solid head start and stand us in great stead when we run it again the following year, and hopefully, for many years after that.”

Finishing touches are now being put on sponsorship agreements and the event’s branding, with registrations due to open before Christmas.

“We want to give the teams as much of a lead-in as we can, so they can raise as much money as possible before the big day,” Ryan says.

“We’re also hoping to see Rotarians from far and wide come join us, whether they want to tackle the trail by foot or cycle, at speed or just at a gentle pace – participation’s all that matters.”
Article dated: 21 January 2017