May 1, 2019
A small annual festival created by runners in 2015 celebrated its fifth outing in Maidenwell over the Easter break with several additions to its schedule.
These included the inaugural Maidenwell Gift which joined the usual half, full and ultra-marathons and a raft of shorter foot races that have become staple events.
The Maidenwell Easter Running Festival was jointly conceived by running enthusiast Bruce Hargreaves, the Maidenwell Community Group and Tanduringie State School’s P&C, and has grown from small beginnings to find a permanent place in the South Burnett’s annual events calendar.
This year, Running Festival organisers had to battle with indifferent weather and a host of competing events around the region over Easter.
They also made some changes to the previous year’s schedule – moving some Sunday events to Saturday, and vice versa.
However, organisers say they will probably return to their former positions next year.
The new events that were added to the line-up received such an enthusiastic response they’ll likely become permanent.
One of these was a “Beer Mile” on Saturday, which challenged competitors to down a can of beer (or a glass of champagne for women, or a can of soft drink for children) and then run 400 metres, four times in a row – a feat that quickly brought even some very experienced runners to their knees.
Another was the Maidenwell Gift, an all-ages footrace which had competitors starting from different positions on the track using a handicapping system based on age.
The Festival embraced the entire town, with a fish and chip dinner at the Maidenwell Hall on Friday night; a Thai Feast at the Maidenwell Hotel on Easter Saturday; and Tanduringie State School P&C’s annual Maidenwell Bull Ride running next to the hotel on Sunday night.
As usual, competitors could camp for free in the sportsgrounds.
South Burnett Regional Council made sure there were enough garbage skips to meet the needs of the combined festival and Bull Ride crowds.
Organiser Bruce Hargreaves said he was very happy with the way things worked out.
He said one mistake the festival made was scheduling several events on Saturday morning, which accidentally conflicted with the Wondai parkrun group’s schedule.
This meant the usual good turnout from parkrun participants was down. This was something the festival would take into consideration when it plans the 2020 schedule.
“Overall, I think attendance numbers this year were the same as last year, and after several years of growth it’s probably a good thing to plateau for a bit so we can regroup,” Bruce said.
“But considering the weather and everything else, I think everyone who came had a great time and that’s the most important thing.”
Runners southburnett.com.au spoke to echoed the sentiment, saying one of the festival’s big attractions was how friendly and down-to-earth South Burnett residents were.
They said the weekend was a perfect antidote to city life, and meant they could have a real break doing what they love most in a welcoming environment.
Several said they had come to every Running Festival since the event began, and looked forward to coming back each year because the festival was “so different” to festivals in Brisbane or the coast.