Rakiura run a winner

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Patrick Higgins, of Nelson, is first to cross the finish line in the open men's race of the Rakiura Challenge Trail Run, held on Stewart Island last Saturday. Photo: Supplied

AFTER doubling the population size of Stewart Island last weekend, Rakiura Challenge Trail Run race director Chris Cox says he is confident the event has a bright future ahead.

The 33.7km trail run around the Great Walk, Stewart Island, on Saturday was labelled “a great success”.

“The runners were just buzzing, a lot of them had never been here, it was pretty great really.”

From as far north as Auckland, 250 participants, at least 100 supporters, and 40 marshalls took part in the event, with more than 800 people on the island.

After a night of rain on Friday, everyone involved was relieved when the weather cleared the next morning, Mr Cox said.

Patrick Higgins, of Nelson, was first in the open men’s race with a time of 2 hours 32 minutes, with Sue Crowley, of Rotorua, winning the women’s open in 3 hrs 9 mins.

Sue Crowley, of Rotorua, is first to cross the line in 3 hours and 9 minutes in the open women’s race.

Other finalists included Richard Ford, of Cromwell, Hywel Dinnick and Simon Green, of Queenstown, Shona Mackie and Grant Ritchie, of Dunedin, and Kelvin Meade, Kelly McSoriley and Adam Cowie, all of Invercargill.

The community centre in Half Moon Bay hosted all those involved on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We had probably one of the biggest function nights with over 300 people at each.”

Southland Institute of Technology students, led by chef Anthony Vickerstaff, prepared fresh seafood and local produce for attendees.

Stewart Island Flights ran an extra 35 flights on Thursday and Friday, while Real Journeys’ Stewart Island Ferry ran an extra service each day and carried an additional 130 passengers.

With 600 extra beds made available for the event, the island “handled it all really well”, he said.

“I never thought we’d pull it together but we really did.”

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