How long can a good thing last? The writing's been on the wall for some time now. Two years ago, event organiser Huw Kingston revealed the harsh reality of the decline in mass participation MTB events. Whether Strava is to blame, sponsors shifting focus, or it is the myriad new trail networks around the country that see the old racers further expanding their horizons, exploring new trails on road trips with mates. One thing is for sure; the Highland Fling has been a highlight of many a mountain biker's year for over a decade, and we're confident that the Final Fling will be one not to miss.
Wild Horizons and Save the Children Australia are very excited to announce that The Highland Fling, one of Australia’s largest, longest established and most iconic mountain biking events, will be going ahead for its 13th edition on 12 November 2017. It is planned that this will be, after all those years, The Final Fling.
The Final Fling will also be a major fundraiser for Save the Children Australia, raising funds to support the superb work they do for children and families in 24 countries around the world. In announcing the partnership, Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children Australia, had this to say: ‘Save the Children Australia is very excited to be the charity partner of The Highland Fling mountain bike marathon. The funds we receive from the event will support our work in Australia and overseas, giving children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.
We’re delighted to continue our extremely close relationship with Huw Kingston, founder of Wild Horizons – the organisation behind The Highland Fling. Huw is an Ambassador for Save the Children Australia and our largest ever individual fundraiser, so we are very pleased that he has seen fit to add another layer to this relationship.’
Speaking on behalf of Wild Horizons, Huw Kingston was very happy about the decision: ‘For over a dozen years The Highland Fling has brought together an incredible community of riders, supporters, sponsors, local community groups and local businesses to celebrate a festival weekend of all things MTB. It has put millions of dollars into the regional economy and offered a fundraising platform for numerous Southern Highlands community groups, the community in which we live. A number of factors saw us consider cancelling the 2017 event. We’d lost a couple of key sponsors for 2017 and had also had enough of the seemingly endless inefficiencies of our local Council. However part also related to my own personal priorities changing; a desire to spend even more of my energy engaging with the pressing issues of plastic pollution, children suffering disadvantage, and of course my own outdoor adventures and journeys.
However, when we announced the event might not happen in 2017, the groundswell of support was huge. In a bit of a light bulb moment, the solution appeared. Why not use the event as a fundraiser for Save the Children, an organisation I already have a very close relationship with? That, in conjunction with our incredible organising team, the support of the mountain biking community and the local Southern Highlands community surely meant we should do at least one Final Fling. A very worthwhile Fling!’
Hopefully the event will go out with a bit of a bang and raise a substantial amount for Save the Children Australia. In addition to the proceeds of the event going to the charity, there will also be plenty of opportunities for personal fundraising.
However amongst this good news is some sad news. In 2015 the Fling weekend grew to include the Bundy Run, a trail running event showcasing the delights of Morton National Park on the edge of Bundanoon. This young event attracted a new outdoor audience and saw a solid increase in numbers year-on-year. However the loss of that event’s headline sponsor last year due to their moving out of the running market (and our inability to attract a replacement) has meant that the financials do not stack up from a fundraising perspective. It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that the Bundy Run will not take place in 2017. We would like to thank all those runners who have supported that event in the past two years.
Wild Horizons would like to say a big thanks to everyone and in particular, our sponsors for bearing with us whilst decisions were made.
We look forward to seeing you at the Final Fling!
For further information on the work of Save the Children Australia visit www.savethechildren.org.au