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Day in the country ... Entrants in last year's Vine Run. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Early bird entries for the Pegasus Bay Winery’s Vine Run shut off at the end of this month.

The Vine Run, on January 28, 2020, is in its third year. Organisers have added an 18km option for more serious athletes.

The 18km challenge starts at 8.30am. It takes in some of the neighbour’s property and has views over the Waipara Valley and out to sea.

Organiser Mike Donaldson says the extra distance has been added to appeal to a broader and more competitive range of athletes. It is open only to runners.

However, the 6km and 10km walk/runs will cater for all other levels of fitness and offers people the chance to have a bit of fun, dress up, or form a group and enjoy some team bonding.

Mike says the start time for both of these courses has been brought forward half an hour to 9.30am in a bid to avoid the heat of the day.

But, aside from the 18km event and the earlier start, little has changed, he says.

All proceeds will go to the New Zealand Brain Research Institute, with $26,000 being donated last year, and $18,000 the first year the event was held.

A tent will provide an additional shaded area for people finishing the event so they can relax, enjoy the music from a string quartet and the Kaiapoi Brass Band, and enjoy a picnic lunch on the sheltered lawns at Pegasus Bay Winery.

Food options will be available, along with a range of Pegasus Bay wines. People are welcome to bring their own picnic, Mike says.

Around 550 entered the last event, but Mike hopes more will come along this time, with the area capable of accommodating 1000 people.

Mike, who is co-director of the run with his sister-in-law Di Donaldson, has modelled the event on the Saint Clair Marathon in Marlborough, which started with 200 to 300 people. It grew year on year, and it is hoped the Vine Run will also continue to expand.

The early bird pricing for those over 18 is $65, while under-18s are $35. Children under 13 must be with an adult at all times.

From October 1, the entry fee will increase to $75 and $40.

Every competitor over 18 will receive a bottle of Pegasus Bay wine.

The Pegasus Bay Winery and Vineyard is a family affair, with the Donaldson family seriously involved in wine since the early 1970s. They are pioneers of the North Canterbury wine region.

Ivan Donaldson has been a member of the New Zealand Brain Research Institute board since 2006 and established Friends of the NZBRI to raise funds for neurological research.

He has had a distinguished career as an associate professor and consultant neurologist. He is also a wine writer and wine judge, and oversees viticulture and wine styles, starting the vineyard while holding down his day job.

His family is deeply involved in the winery in a range of roles.