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The Race to the Brewery is run as an annual fundraiser for Relay for Life. This race has something for everyone and for every team.  It is fiercely competitive for those that way inclined, yet the more social teams still love the event and leave with a huge sense of achievement and many memories from a day full of team spirit and personal challenge.


The dark clouds threatened above but that didn’t put a dampener on the hundreds that gathered outside Property Brokers on Broadway Avenue, eager to get the 6th annual Relay for Life fundraiser, the Race to the Brewery, on the road!  Each team (of up to 10 participants) completes 6 legs, consisting of road cycling, running, walking and mountain biking, making up a unique course of over 60km from Property Brokers Head Office, Palmerston North to the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka. This year saw a record number of teams take part and raised in excess of $30,000 for Relay for Life.  A great event for a great cause. 


As the race began, the cyclists all jostled for position but it was soon evident that young Madison Hartley-Brown (JJs) was going to take the prize for first cyclist in.  However, dreaming was definitely not what Pipe Dreamers rider was doing as he cruised in just seconds later, just on the tail of Sport Manawatu’s Ross Rainham.  Also coming in at a brisk 24 minutes was veteran Paul Humphries (Humphries Construction).  However, going by the way he collapsed at the end of the ride he certainly looked like he was a few rides short of peak performance.  The Pink Ladies may not have been the first team in but they were certainly the noisiest, which raises the question of what exactly was in those drink bottles?  In sharp contrast solo entrant Shane Brown (Brownie) was as cool as a cucumber at the transition point, with time to have a chat to family before heading into the bush to conquer the Gorge.


As the runners disappeared into the Gorge, they were faced with the reality of the course with the unrelenting climb to the top looming ahead.  Last year’s champion Gorge runner, Tom Francis, hasn’t lost any form at all, coming in at an impressive 47 minutes.  But ex SAS soldier, Andy Good (Scaff2U) didn't allow Tom a back-to-back.  He showed true grit to complete his leg in the fastest time of 46 minutes, taking his team into second place and closing in on Forty Plus One (last year’s winners).  Let the battle begin!  ASB were out to win the battle of the banks, with Kevin Nicholson arriving at the end of the Gorge with the third fastest time of 51 minutes.   Meanwhile, two solos, Shane Brown and David Brokenshire emerged only seconds apart.  With Shane showing a cycling advantage and David slightly ahead on the running front, this was another challenge to watch with interest.


The runner from Mixed Bag and Studio Rubix’s Toby Morland picked off one runner after the next through the Gorge, passing a whopping 21 and 19 people respectively.  Toby couldn’t relax just yet though; with a team made up of only three members, he still had the challenge of the mountain bike ahead.  With a team made up of only three members, he still had the challenge of the mountain bike ahead.  Kevin Bills (Kevin Bills Photography) looked remarkably comfortable after his great run, showing he has talents on the other side of the camera as well.


Those who have tackled the walk in the past, know that it is no walk in the park!  Jared Brock (Pahiatua Alpha Males) got off to a great start, warning all those around him to stand back and watch the flames flying from this sneakers.  Any flames would have been smothered by the clouds of dust encountered as the walkers disappeared from sight, to tackle the seemingly never ending walk up Hall Block Road, that goes on corner after corner.  The walkers are treated with awesome views over the Tararua country side, but Offsprings Sam McKay wasn’t there for the scenery.  Forty-five minutes from the transition point was all it took before he was handing the baton to his mountain biker.  At the top of the hill, Forty Plus One were ahead and looked promising for a back to back victory.  But, in this race, nothing is guaranteed as they were soon to discover. 


The mountain bike leg is already a hair raising ride, but it was made more challenging with strong gusty winds.  Teams were gathered, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their mountain biker, warming up, ready to start the run home, deep in wonder of what exactly had taken place through the windmills and down the goat track.  This excitement soon turned to disappointment for Forty Plus One as Scaffit2U rider, Nick Mannix, came screaming around the corner to be the first off the track.  Carl Izatt, Manawatu Turbos, rode a great ride to bring his team into placing contention.  This leg is known for claiming the lives of many a bike and this year was no exception.  Forty Plus One rider, Gareth Evans must have thought his bike was jinxed with not one but three punctures resulting in more time spent under his bike than on it.  Gareth completed the leg well, however hopes of the trophy had slipped away.  All that said, mountain bikers love this leg - they come out the other end fizzing with adrenalin. 



The fifth leg was underway.  If you looked at Geoff Bendall’s (Forty Plus One) time of 31 minutes for this 7.5km run, you would be forgiven for thinking that this leg was one of the easier ones.  Trust me, it’s not.   The long straight road, stream crossing and steep quarry hill make for a physically and mentally challenging run. An outstanding run by Finn Withers put his team (More FM) in contention for a place on the podium.   Things were getting exciting.


With the TUIWOOD sign in sight and the Brewery looming in the distance, it was time to tackle the final leg.  Jack McKay (Offspring) and Harris Hamilton (GJ Gardner Half Pints) would have barely worked up a sweat as they mowed this leg down in an incredible 12 minutes.  


Scaff2U beat the crowds to the Brewery to take out first place with a record breaking time and consistent performances across all the legs saw Manawatu Turbos and More FM second and third. All five solo competitors finished smiling after their huge accomplishment.  


View photos of the days events here.


Another race over, with a new winner, for a great cause and thoroughly enjoyed by all.  Bring on Race to the Brewery 2017! 


Overall Placings  


Scaff2U Couch Spuds

1. Scaff2U Couch Spuds

Rick Cutts, Andy Good, Aaron Twiss, Nick Mannix,  Sasha Antunovic, Cameron Twiss 

3 hours 17 mins

Winning team

From L to R Row: Rick Cutts, Sasha
Antunovic, Nick Mannix, Aaron Twiss and Cameron Twiss


2. Manawatu Turbos

Jefro Pack, Mike Pettman, Maya Patterson, Carl Izatt, Josh McClane, Michael Brown

3 hours 33 mins
3. More FM

David Fryer, Sheree McLean, Heather Berge, Brendan Tootell, Finn Withers, Erin Withers, Brett Davis

3 hours 38 mins
4. Sport Manawatu

Ross Rainham, Campbell MacNeill, Angela Rainham,  Brad Cassidy, Strahan McIntosh, Leanne Couch

3 hours 39 mins
5. Forty Plus 1 Geoff Bendall, Tom Francis, Blair Cottrill, Gareth Evans, Grant Paton 3 hours 41 mins

2016 Fastest leg times: (Please note these times are to the nearest minute)
Leg 1: Road Cycle 20 minutes Madison Hartley-Brown(JJs)
Leg 2: Gorge Run 46 minutes Andy Good (Scaff2U)
Leg 3: Walk 45 minutes Sam McKay (Offspring)
Leg 4: Mountain Bike 34 minutes Nick Vinsen (PB Foxton), Duncan Palmer  (GJ Gardner Half Pints), Nick Mannix (Scaff2U)
Leg 5: 7.5km Run 31 minutes Geoff Bendall (40 plus 1)
Leg 6: Final Dash 12 minutes Jack McKay (Offspring), Harris Hamilton (GJ Gardner Half Pints)


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