18 Nov 2016

Small dogs and lots of heart: Gisborne's terrier races

From Nine To Noon, 9:44 am on 18 November 2016

A quirky fundraiser for women with breast cancer cooked up by a bunch of friends over a bottle of bubbly is now a fixture on the Gisborne social calendar.

The Gisborne terrier races are on again this weekend with Jack Russells, Foxies and others competing on the race track. And there is fashion in the field too, for human and dog.

The first race was held in 2006 when a group of six friends decided to help another friend with breast cancer who was self-funding her Herceptin treatment in Australia.

The day was a hit and $7000 was raised.

When Herceptin became government-funded in 2008 the women decided to keep the event going to put the money towards providing support packs for all women diagnosed with breast cancer in the area and has since raised $100,000.

The event’s on again this weekend at the Gisborne Show Grounds.

So how do you get a terrier to run around a track?

The answer involves an old bicycle and a dead possum, says co-founder and organiser Derry Stovell.

“We have a 38 metre track and it runs down a beautiful tree-lined grassy lane, we’ve got corporate marquees along one side and we’ve got car boots which are bolted into the side of the wall along the other side and we have a pulley rope system that works on an old bicycle pulling a piece of dead possum as a lure.”

The bicycle is hand-powered by a “very fit young man”, Derry says.

Last year they had 1000 through the gates and are hoping for a similar turnout this year.

The money raised provides a care pack to every woman diagnosed with breast cancer (there have been 38 this year) worth $850 which includes vouchers for petrol and local businesses and services.