They say playing in mud is a great leveller - and that's exactly what members of the Tauranga Boys' College under-15 team are hoping for this weekend.
The team is fronting the Tauranga Mud Challenge - a 6km mud run through the Pahoia Domain estuary - to raise funds for the school’s rugby hardship fund.
This year, the fund will be used to support players in the under-15 team that would otherwise struggle to pay their way to next month's tournament in Napier and captain Grady Forbes says helping out with the mud run had many more benefits than purely financial.
"It really helps the team bonding - you build that camaraderie, knowing that we're all here for each other - and all the boys know we've got each others' backs," says Grady.
"The hardship fund is for the boys that find it a bit tougher to fundraise for trips but doing this all together as a team means when we go to the tournament, we've already got a great team spirit and can really concentrate on just doing the job on the field."
Last year's inaugural Tauranga Mud Challenge raised more that $4000 for the hardship fund and this year, it has attracted corporate sponsorship from leading Tauranga building firm iLine Construction.
The 6km course will take competitors across mudflats near Pahoia Domain, through paddocks and channels, with additional challenges along the way, such as cargo net crawls, a mud slide and try-scoring in the mud.
The long course is open to teams of three as well as individuals, while a 3km version is open to under-16 athletes.
Members of the Greerton Volunteer Fire Brigade will provide a hose-down service for runners afterwards, while food and drink carts will keep bodies fuelled and firing.
Organiser and Tauranga Boys' College PE teacher Rodger McBrydie says with Line Construction's support, they'd been able to ramp things up this year.
"We were blown away with the success of our inaugural event and the feedback we had from participants wasn't just positive, it was jubilant," says Rodger.
"This year, we've taken it up a notch - we've tweaked the course and have a number of new challenges along the way, all the while keeping the same sense of fun that made last year so enjoyable."
Unlike most event organisers, Rodger is also loving the fact he doesn't have to keep an eye on the weather forecast.
"My prediction is that it'll be wet and muddy. Pretty much perfect!"
The 2019 Tauranga Mud Challenge will be held on Sunday August 11, with more information and entry details at www.taurangamudchallenge.co.nz.
Pahoia local Clint Morrison is all smiles during last year's inaugural Tauranga Mud Challenge. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media.