Photo James Sandbrook OB4860-05

THREE young members of The Jaguars prepare to get their hands dirty during yesterday’s New World O-Mazing race where challenges included throwing and catching eggs, fishing a toy bees out of a bucket of honey and designing a captain’s hat.

ENTRIES for Opotiki’s annual O-mazing Race almost doubled this year with 38 local and visiting teams taking up the challenge.

“Usually we get about 20 teams,” said Opotiki i-SITE manager Joseph Hayes.

“It looks like there’s a lot of people out there today.”

This included four vanloads of Opotiki College’s Tu Rangitahi youth leadership programme members.

As with every year, contestants registered their teams and gathered outside the i-SITE, where they received their first clue.

Before setting off, Mr Hayes reminded entrants that points were awarded based on challenges, not speed, meaning teams should obey the road rules and be safe.

After that, captains were assigned, and teams were let go in stages to their first location.

The clues led teams across the township and beyond to complete challenges, which included eating an anchovy, fishing for a toy bee in a bucket of honey and posting a picture to the Opotiki Lantern Festival Facebook page.

Teams were told to meet at the Opotiki Memorial Park Pavilion at 12.45pm for the final challenges and were treated to lunch onsite.

The last challenges included throwing and catching eggs, and a contest for who could make the best captain’s hat out of various materials accumulated over the morning.

There were also two sprinklers set up at the pavilion to keep teams cool in the day’s 27-degree heat.

District health board dental assistant Jamie Hammond and oral health therapist Olivia Groot were also on the scene, educating families on how much sugar could be found in many popular drinks.

“We’re also ensuring kids are enrolled (for mobile dental care),” Ms Hammond said.

The pair gave out toothbrushes and toothpaste to children as well.

At the end of the day, the overall winning team was Finn and the Ferals, with The Wiwis in second place – but not available to collect their prize – and the Hukuwai Hooligans in third place.

Mr Hayes was pleased with the day, describing it as “such a cool event”.

“We had to ring in two more helpers from the council because of how many people there were.”

He said the biggest difficulty each year was finding new things and places for the event, but once again staff had risen to the challenge.