Barry Mouat lives in people's memories as a local hero who loved to introduce people to Great Barrier Island with all its beauty and quirks. Despite having been diagnosed with cancer and against advice, Mouat walked from Port Fitzroy to Tryphena Wharf in 2007: just over a year later, Mouat lost his battle with cancer and passed away.
Great Barrier now hosts the annual Barry Mouat Memorial Wharf to Wharf Marathon, proudly described as 'New Zealand's friendliest marathon'. Past participant Katherine Jancys agrees. "This is probably the only running event where your arm gets more fatigued than your legs from waving at all the locals as you are running along. The support was fantastic!"
The Wharf to Wharf run, mountain bike and duathlon is a traditional community affair, run entirely by local volunteers and with home baking on the aid stations. Money raised from the event goes to Kaitoke School - one of three small schools which caters for students on the island from Years 0-8. Cindy Wiseman, event director and Board of Trustees chairwoman, stresses the importance of this event as the schools' major fundraiser: "[The funds] enable our senior students to grow in confidence from valuable off-island experiences before they progress to secondary education. As there is no High School on Great Barrier Island these [experiences] are critical to our students' success". Kaitoke students do their bit by making the kilometre markers.
The event begins at Port Fitzroy Wharf and meanders south to finish at Tryphena Wharf. The course is a combination of Department of Conservation bush tracks through native forest and sealed roads beside white sandy beaches, over green farmland and past small settlements. The highest point affords spectacular views over Hauraki Gulf and the Pacific Ocean, and participants may glimpse kaka, kereru and chevron skink.
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Great Barrier Island Wharf to Wharf
What: Barry Mouat Memorial Marathon, half marathon, mountain bike or duathlon
When: Saturday, October 3
Where: Great Barrier Island
For more information: www.thebarrier.co.nz/wharf2wharf