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Festival Marks ‘Spirit Of Maidenwell’

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Lara and Michael Ford, from Brisbane, presented the inaugural “Spirit Of Maidenwell” perpetual trophy to Maidenwell Community Group member Bronwyn Spencer … Lara and Michael have attended every Running Festival since 2015 and said they wanted to give something back to say “thank you” for such a great event

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. ThisĀ  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.

Related articles:

Karen King and Victoria Laird came from Brisbane to take part in this year’s Running Festival, along with Victoria’s 18-month-old daughter Annabelle

Runner Sarah-Jane Marshall completed her 100th marathon on Easter Saturday, 10 years and seven months after she ran her first marathon to “try something different”

A group of runners lined up with Sarah-Jane Marshall shortly after dawn on Saturday morning as she prepared for her 100th marathon attempt (Photo: Bruce Hargreaves)

And they’re off! While long-distance runners followed a well laid-out course through nearby farmland, many other runners took part in shorter distance events at the sportsgrounds

The half, full and ultra marathons attracted both female and male runners …

… who followed a bushland course that started and ended at Maidenwell’s sports ground

The three-day festival had marathons every day, along with an ultra-marathon on Saturday for dedicated runners who wanted a cumulative 100km challenge for the weekend (Photo: Tonya McCracken)

Maidenwell Community Group president Cr Gavin Jones assisted with the Festival’s set-up and even made an attempt at Saturday’s Beer Mile (Photo: Cheryl Masson)

The Beer Mile was a new event added to the timetable this year and in addition to beer, it also offered a champagne option for women and soft drink for children (Photo: Cheryl Masson)

On Sunday morning, competitors of all ages lined up around the Sportsgrounds for the inaugural Maidenwell Gift foot race, where entrants received distance handicaps based on their age

By the time Maidenwell Gift runners approached the finish line, the field was an all-ages mix

Barrel horse champion Michael Sanford and Miss Cooyar Teen Showgirl Taylah Kidman were the inaugural Maidenwell Gift winners, and proudly showed off their cowbell trophies after the race

Junior Maidenwell Gift competitors Summer Sanford, 5, Sophie Pincott, 7, Blake Cullen, 7, and Hayden Sanford, 7, all attend Tanduringie State School


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