Pas­sion be­hind the fes­tive run

Whitsunday Times - - ARLIE BEACH RUNNING FESTIVAL 2016 - By Peter Car­ruthers

WENDY Downes, OAM has a pas­sion for sport and more specif­i­cally these days a pas­sion for run­ning.

She is the driv­ing force be­hind the up­com­ing Air­lie Beach Run­ning Fes­ti­val and does it be­cause she loves the sport.

Ms Downes’ said be­hindthe-scenes work for the fes­ti­val was her way of giv­ing back to a sport that over the years had given her so much.

“That’s what I do and that is what I love. I get so much sat­is­fac­tion out of see­ing a suc­cess­ful event and happy par­tic­i­pants,” she said.

In 2012 Ms Downes was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Whit­sun­day Run­ning Club.

Dur­ing one of those early meet­ings it was de­cided the Whit­sun­days needed a half marathon and the Air­lie Beach Run­ning Fes­ti­val was born.

Now in its fourth year the fes­ti­val has grown hugely since its in­au­gu­ral year.

Ms Downes at­trib­uted the suc­cess of the event to lo­cal peo­ple get­ting bit­ten by the com­pet­i­tive run­ning “bug”.

“A lot of peo­ple just run... but get a bit bored of do­ing the same thing and they also are spurred along by other peo­ple say­ing ‘why don’t you, why don’t you’,” she said.

“Once they get into a club sit­u­a­tion or an event sit­u­a­tion they re­alise the ben­e­fit of be­ing with like-minded peo­ple.

“It spurs you on and gives you ex­cite­ment and gives you more en­ergy. You are not think­ing about your­self, you are think­ing about ev­ery­body else.

“It’s about be­ing out there with other peo­ple, be­ing part of the com­mu­nity and en­joy­ing the at­mos­phere.”

Ms Downes said the run­ning fes­ti­val pro­vided the per­fect means to get out and do some­thing healthy and fun.

This year – if early reg­is­tra- tions are any­thing to go by – lo­cal peo­ple are do­ing just that.

“We know there are an aw­ful lot of peo­ple out there from our lo­cal re­gion... who prob­a­bly have not done a com­pe­ti­tion like this be­fore,” Ms Downes said.

This Satur­day and Sun­day, those new­com­ers will join vet­er­ans of the sport to take in the beau­ti­ful sur­rounds of Air­lie Beach in five dif­fer­ent events.

Ev­ery skill level will be catered for, from the se­ri­ous ath­lete to those just start­ing out and kids who want to get in­volved.

There is a half marathon, 10km and 5km fun runs, a 5km busi­ness team chal­lenge and a 2km kids’ fun run.

Ms Downes said wet weather was fore­cast for the week­end but the fes­ti­val would go ahead re­gard­less.

En­tries are up on last year and an­other record was ex­pected to be bro­ken, she said.

“There are some very se­ri­ous ath­letes that have al­ready reg­is­tered in the half marathon, in­clud­ing Steve Jack­son and our very own Justin Knight-Gray,” she said.

“I am very ex­cited about this year’s event. We add to our ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery year and we hope all com­peti­tors will be happy.”

Visit www.runair­lie.com.au for more in­for­ma­tion and to reg­is­ter.

PACED: Run­ners par­tic­i­pat­ing in last year’s Air­lie Beach Run­ning Fes­ti­val on Boathaven Beach.

Photo: Deb Savy / Tropix

UP­COM­ING: Air­lie Beach Run­ning Fes­ti­val com­mit­tee mem­bers Ruth Roberts, Bob Bar­ford and Wendy Downes OAM will be run­ning at the week­end. Photo: Peter Car­ruthers

THEY’RE OFF: Run­ners on the start­ing line of last year’s Air­lie Beach Run­ning Fes­ti­val. Photo: Deb Savy / Tropix

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