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Forest duathlon a wild challenge

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2014

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When two roads diverged in a wood, poet Robert Frost found taking the one less travelled made all the difference - now adrenaline and nature lovers can try that first-hand.

About 200 hardy souls will race up little-used Braddick's Track through dense, bird-filled bush during the inaugural Breadcraft Wild Challenge, a new duathlon event to be held at Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre on September 28.

Arranged as a fundraiser for forest restoration at Pukaha's 940-hectare reserve, the Wild Challenge would take participants well off the beaten track, organiser and Pukaha general manager Helen Tickner said.

"It's a chance to get into real Pukaha forest, it's not like it's a tramping track - it's more of a trail. It's really a road less travelled."

Starting from the Pukaha visitor centre, 20 minutes drive north of Masterton, the first leg of the duathlon is a 10km trail run over a ridge to Mt Munro Rd, near Mauriceville. There participants will collect their bicycles for the 23km back to the visitor centre over sealed country roads. The fastest competitors are expected to take 2 hours and entrants will be limited to 200.

Braddick's Track starts about 1.5km along the main track from the visitor centre and heads uphill through stands of large, mature kahikatea, totara and rimu trees to "superb" views over the Wairarapa valley, Tickner said. Kiwi, kokako and kaka all live in the area the trail passes through.

A unique spot prize for the event is naming rights to one of the reserve's kiwi, which hatch around the time of the duathlon. The winner will be invited to accompany centre staff into the bush to release the hatchling next March.

Supporters of duathlon entrants will get free entry to the centre, which normally costs a family $50.

The challenge was a "different, fun" way to celebrate native birds, a special piece of back country and the onset of spring, Tickner said.

Entries cost $50 for individuals and $60 for teams of two, and opened yesterday at pukaha.org.nz.

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- The Dominion Post

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