THE TASSAL Group Airlie Beach Marathon Festival was held on the weekend with almost 500 runners pounding the footpaths and boardwalk around the foreshore.
The competitors came from all over Australia and further afield with entries from New Zealand, Scotland and the USA.
The McDonald’s Magic Mile was the enticer, on Saturday afternoon, with Billy Grogan winning the men’s race and Claire Ashworth taking the cash in the women’s category.
The North Queensland Marathon Championship was the marquee event for the meet and was won by local Whitsunday Running Club member Viv Compton, who broke her previous record in a time of 3:22:02.
The defending men’s champion Justin Gibbs retained his title in a much-improved time of 2:47:40.
There was the first ever wheelchair entry, this year, with Chris ‘Wheelsie’ Keillor, from Western Australia, completing the course in a record time of 5:33:58 using a standard wheelchair.
The ‘boutique marathon’ attracted a larger field than last year and included some interesting personalities all running for various reasons.
Matt Curr, from the Whitsunday Running Club, was using it as a training run for the Medoc Marathon through the vineyards, in France, in September.
Karin Thorburn who placed third was fresh from her 30 marathons in 30 days, in Townsville, in June.
The Tassal Group Half Marathon also saw the lady’s record broken by Canberra runner Claire Ashworth in 1:22:27.
This was Claire’s second visit to Airlie, having won and set the previous record in 2019.
The men’s winner was a surprise entry by Tom Ferrington, from Scotland, who finished just outside the record in 1:18:36.
The Jones family, from Bowen, who are all Whitsunday Running Club members, featured strongly in the Whitsunday Transit 10km and Ray White 5km races.
Liam Jones beat his younger brother Jayden in the 10km and then Jayden went on to beat his younger brother Shay in the 5km!
There was a large contingent of Whitsunday Running Club members in the 10km, which was won by local member Aimee Sulzberger, with Sharnie Farrell second and fellow member Lienca Nell third, in the women’s division.
Cannonvale’s Kimberley Rheeder placed first in the women’s 5km race, followed by Chiara Christofferson, from Townsville, and Raylene Rasmussen from Proserpine.
Airlie Beach Intersport were the winners of the 5km Corporate Team Challenge floating trophy in a time of 1:10:38.
The junior races were proceeded by a mascot race between Blazer (the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service koala) and Cruiser (the Cruise Whitsundays turtle) and was won by Blazer.
There were 120 enthusiastic runners in the Wilmar 2km and Big Bretto’s 1km dash and Primary School Challenge.
St Catherine’s Catholic College, from Proserpine, won the floating trophy and cash for the highest percentage of participation.
The 2km boy’s section was won by Banjor Moser, followed by Don Vinh Algie and Lucas Appleton.
The girl’s section winner was Willow Moser, with Isabella Gomez second and Penelope Shields third.
The 1km girl’s category was won by Ella Maddock, with runner-up Alihra Karon and Aria Crawford.
The boys were led home by Billy Appleton, then James Gibbs and Oliver Bright.
Event manager Tim McQuoid-Mason said the results were impressive.
“The results achieved to today were very impressive as the south easter was howling through at about 25knotts and, despite that, there were two new records set by Liv Compton and Claire Ashworth,” he said.
“It was great to see the community support with 40 marshals out on the course.
“Thank you to all the volunteers, runners, and the community for sharing the foreshore with us.”