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blog pic 4 o2oTHE Oxford to Oxford Challenge (O2O) has raised more than $150,000 for cancer research. More than 300 people took part in the challenge, cycling and running 110km from the Oxford Landing Winery in the Barossa to the Oxford Landing Estate in the Riverland.

Andrew La Nauze, Oxford Landing winemaker, said the event had a great community feel.

“It was fantastic, the weather was perfect,” La Nauze said. “And the fundraising has been phenomenal. Everyone has jumped in, rolled up their sleeves and shown their support.”

The winemaker said the idea was participation rather than competition across the back tracks from the Barossa to Waikerie.

“I’ve driven that route plenty of times, but to see it while you are riding your bike does remind you of how stark and beautiful that landscape is,” La Nauze said. “People entered in teams and individuals could push their own boundaries, so  a few of us were hurting – but we knew it was nothing compared to those who are battling cancer.”

Run by colleagues from Oxford Landing and sister winery Yalumba, the O2O Challenge is the largest event of its kind the family-owned business has staged.

More than 300 entrants, across 19 teams, combined for a massive fundraising effort that had raised $159,546 by October 13 for Cancer Council South Australia. An initial fundraising goal of $25,000 was set by the O2O volunteer committee, but this was revised several times as efforts from the participants exceeded expectations.

Fundraising activity included raffles, variety nights, auctions and gourmet lunches, while businesses responded by donating items ranging from lawnmowers to firewood, WOMADelaide tickets to luxury accommodation in Queensland. The small riverside community of Morgan also benefited from the event, with local accommodation, hotels, houseboats and the Morgan Riverside Caravan Park at capacity on Saturday night.

Olivia Barrie, Oxford Landing marketing manager, urged other businesses to consider holding similar fundraising events, saying the benefits for all involved far outweighed the effort.

“It was a team bonding event – it was great to see relationships develop with people across the company; red faced, hat hair, covered in dust, people connected with others they’d never reached out to before,” Barrie said.

“Everyone worked together to embrace this sensational concept, which saw challenges won and friendships forged. Everyone gained a huge respect and understanding of each other.”

Participants completed a 90km cycle or run in relay-style on Saturday; stayed overnight at Morgan, where there was food vans, bars, entertainment and live music set up at the Morgan Reserve; cycled or ran the remaining 20km to the Oxford Landing vineyard near Waikerie on Sunday morning; and enjoyed a picnic by the River Murray at Oxford Landing Estate at the finish.

“The spirit of participation, the community support and seeing everyone having a really good go was overwhelming,” Barrie said. “Children as young as eight were riding more than 40km with their parents, friends were cycling with kids who just wouldn’t give up, the energy people had to push through pain – the course was a really good challenge.”

Ms Barrie said the uphill start to the course and warm weather did result in a few initial complaints from participants, though people quickly gained perspective.

“If you have cancer, you don’t have a chance to back out, it’s a constant challenge,” Barrie said. “The atmosphere along the route was fun, supportive and collaborative. One of inclusion, where people were focussed on the challenge and conquering it.”

O2O was a family event designed to raise money to help find a cure for cancer. All proceeds will be donated to the Cancer Council South Australia.