Longbeach race boon for community

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Longbeach School principal Neil Simons recalls his first experience of the Longbeach Coastal Challenge.

He was on the end of a grubber tackling gorse.

Another day, he was on the back of a truck with a clipboard, noting down mountain-bikers.

That was a decade ago.

Last week, the school was given a cheque for $23,000, proceeds from the race, and $23,000 also went to the Hinds and District Lions, co-organisers, with the school, of the event.

The race, along the Mid Canterbury coast, is now regarded as one of the best in New Zealand.

Its numbers grow every year: in 2007, the first year, it attracted 259 mountain bikers and raised $5800, shared between the school and the Lions.

Last year, it attracted 1493 competitors (cyclists, runners and walkers) and generated $46,669.

Jo Taylor, of the organising committee, said the race had grown immensely.

She said naming sponsor ATS had committed itself for another three years under its RuralCo tag, and Ray Mayne Hose and Fittings would carry on, as it did for the tenth race, providing finishing medals.

Garry Brown, of Hinds Lions, presented the cheques and is the new chairman of the organising committee.