Event with 'heart' set to blaze a trail

By Roger Moroney

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The Peak Trail Blazer runs and walks across the hillsides of Havelock North is set to spark into life for the seventh time this year.
The Peak Trail Blazer runs and walks across the hillsides of Havelock North is set to spark into life for the seventh time this year.

Preparations for the seventh annual Peak Trail Blazer fundraising event have sparked into life and Heart Kids Hawke's Bay and the Hastings Giants Boxing Academy have been named as this year's recipients.

The event has been dubbed "the little event with a big heart" by the online running magazine Running Plus and since it kicked off it has attracted more than 3400 participants and raised more than $108,000 for the Havelock North Primary School as well as the wider community.

It was dreamt up as a simple school fundraiser by three parents from Havelock North Primary, Jo Throp, Susie Devonshire and Rachel Cornwall who were later joined by Jan Broadley as the event grew from year to year.

"We said from the outset we wanted this to be a true community focused event, not only when attracting entrants from all over Hawke's Bay, but also by giving something positive back to the community that supports it," Ms Throp said.

"This aspect of the event is really important to us."

Craig McDougall from Hastings Giants Boxing Academy said the money would be put towards their new mentoring programme and said the support of the Peak Trail Blazer would also continue to lift their profile within the Hawke's Bay community.

Heart Kids Hawke's Bay spokesperson Rachael Bartle said they embraced the idea of the event from the start.

"Funnily enough when we were approached about it, and then after having met with the organisers, we all felt the event had real 'heart", she said.

"We're thrilled to be a part of it."

Both organisations will receive 20 per cent of the funds raised from this year's event which will be staged on November 20, with entries opening early next month.

It will again feature a 12.8km Te Mata Peak Trail and a 3.5km Tainui Trail - to suit all ages of runners and walkers.

Ms Throp said it had taken a lot of "hard graft and passion for the cause" by a core group of volunteer organisers and as a result the event was now firmly established on the local running calendar and attracted top competitors.

Like reigning champions Ruby Muir and Eric Speakman, who are keen to have a shot at the titles of Rod McDonald Wines King of the Peak and Hawke's Bay Orthodontics Queen of the Peak, and compete to get their names in the prestigious The Scorchers Sub 50-minute and Hall of Flames Sub 60-minute clubs.

"Our aim is to now take this momentum and extend it out of the region to attract runners of all ages and abilities to come and take part," Ms Throp said.

"There are so many unique and cool aspects to this event -- not only the fundraising angle but the relatively low entry fee, the fact that all entrants wear timing chips, people can run or walk, there's a short and a long course, and there's the ability for people from all ages and fitness levels to take part on either trail - it's a great entry-level event as well as being highly competitive at the top end."

- Full event details can be found at www.peaktrailblazer.co.nz

- Hawkes Bay Today

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