RUNNING FESTIVAL WRAP
Record running festival
MUMS can do anything – and in Airlie Beach they’ve been adding marathons, half marathons and five to 10km runs to their CVs – proudly championed by Nicole Bunyon, founder of Running Mums Australia.
Ms Bunyon, who started the internet group five years ago and was the ambassador for Sunday’s 2017 Airlie Beach Running Festival, said it was great to see so many mums, kids and families at the event.
Of the 30,000 people now following www.runningmumsaustralia.com.au and its associated Facebook page, some also followed Ms Bunyon to Airlie Beach, where the 2017 Running Festival offered a full “heart of the reef” marathon for the first time.
The chance to experience a new place in an event aptly dubbed “run to paradise” was quite a draw card, she said, adding “a lot of our members are into this destination-type event”.
Running Festival organiser Tim Oberg said many of the event’s record-breaking 626 attendees also expressed a desire to support Airlie Beach in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.
“Airlie’s getting back on its feet and this was a great way to showcase the town. We are thrilled with the way everything went – the weather gods shined on us and our volunteers went over and above to give all participants a wonderful experience,” he said.
Also new this year was the course, which led runners on a 10.55km loop between the start and finish lines at the Port of Airlie and Cannonvale Beach, with the Cruise Whitsundays Half Marathon comprising two loops and the Heart of the Reef Marathon four loops.
Mr Oberg said the feedback from the runners and the way spectators had been able to engage with them was one of the personal highlights for him from the 2017 event.
And Ms Bunyon described the course as “beautiful”.
“And even though it was a semi-big event it had a great community feel while showcasing a beautiful place. I don’t think I can compare it to anything else,” she said.
For some of the participants at this year’s event there was much more than running or hitting a personal best at stake.
Evan and Tegan McCarthy were there to raise money for the Canberra Hospital where their daughter Lalita was born 10 weeks premature in 2015.
And six months ago 23-year-old Aaron Royall packed up his life in Sydney and decided to drive around Australia running marathons along the way to raise funds and awareness of mental health issues for the Black Dog Institute.
The winner of the inaugural Heart of the Reef Marathon and 2017 Athletics North Queensland Champion in the women’s division was Airlie Beach local of 15 years, Deb Mayne.
In the men’s category it was Darryl Hill from Rockhampton who took the crown, in two hours 40 minutes, 22 seconds.
For the full story, results and photo gallery head to whitsundaytimes.com.au.
Kirsty Ferguson was supported around the running festival track by her children Seren and Carys.