Endurance race: Nature calling all competitors

Hundreds of runners are making their final preparations for the fourth annual Staples Rodway Cape Kidnappers Challenge on Saturday.

There are still places available in the 32km race, which will attract 700 people to the start-finish line at Clifton Bay Cafe on the Cape Coast.

Race director David Tait said: "We truly are thrilled that the event is getting such good support. Not only does the event encourage people to be active, fit and healthy, it also raises funds for a local charity or non-profit organisation.

"I know too well how difficult it can be for organisations to fundraise and I know that the $12,000-plus that we will raise for the Hawke's Bay surf lifesaving clubs will be used to purchase lifesaving kits that will save lives well into the future."

The event can be completed by individuals and teams of three who can walk or run their way through some stunning scenery.

The course will take them along the exposed coastline that leads to Cape Kidnappers, where it is not uncommon to see seals and other marine visitors.

Just as competitors get accustomed to the beach at their feet, the scenery changes as the course heads inland.

After 10.5km, the first of two transition areas is reached. Here, teams can change runners (or walkers) and solo participants grab a drink of water before heading off again.

Though some competitors will run the entire course, the bulk of the field are out there to see the views and challenge themselves.

This year's route has changed with the course taking competitors into what is known as the "rough block", which is an integral part of Cape Sanctuary, one of the biggest privately owned wildlife sanctuaries in New Zealand.

The driving force behind the sanctuary project came from local businessman Andy Lowe, who is now a regular participant in the event and also a gold sponsor through his company Lowe Corporation.

This probably reflects the level of support for the event from participants and local businesses and organisations. They are supportive of the event, which has returned over $36,000 into the Hawke's Bay community.

The first stage of the project was to build a pest-proof fence stretching 10.6km from coast to coast.

The purpose of the fence is to prevent predators infesting the headland. In 2007, the fence was finished and the programme is now almost six years old.

The project has two staff and an army of volunteers involved with intensive pest control across the headland.

There are 1400 traps and 2200 bait stations which are checked on a regular basis.

The aim is to knock out everything from rats upwards - ferrets, stoats, cats, goats, possums and hedgehogs.

Possums have been eradicated from the peninsula but feral cats are posing a problem with more than 900 caught to date.

The intention of the project is to bring back wildlife that used to live on the peninsula and this has started by transferring birds and animals to the site from other parts of New Zealand.

On exiting Cape Sanctuary at the second transition, after a further 10km of travel, participants will make their way down to the Maraetotara River via a series of ridges that give some unique views of Te Mata Peak and the surrounding areas.

As the route gets closer to the river, some short but steep hills add an extra challenge and some spectacular views of the first of two waterfall that participants will pass.

Once on the river, runners and walkers will find the river crossings deep in places and refreshing after so many kilometres of travel.

The river gorge is another feature of the race and competitors will even have to negotiate a small ladder.

The river leads participants back to the Cape Kidnappers Golf Course access road before they exit the farm. A short road section returns them to the start-finish line at the Clifton Cafe.

Team entries have sold out but individual entries are still available at capechallenge.co.nz and late entries are accepted at the race briefing on Friday at the Staples Rodway House, 205 Hastings St South.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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