by Peter Carruthers
MARATHON: For the fifth consecutive year Cruise Whitsundays is back on board the flagship running event in the Whitsundays.
The Cruise Whitsundays Airlie Beach Running Festival is going ahead this year despite the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Race director and driving force behind the festival Tim Oberg said without the support of Cruise Whitsundays the event would not be going ahead.
"Without the ongoing support of Cruise Whitsundays the Airlie Beach Running Festival would have struggled to get off the ground this year," he said.
Oberg said ironcially the festival was also playing a small part in helping the company get back on its feet after Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
"This year is a celebration of Cruise Whitsundays being back and a plus for staff morale," he said.
This year Cruise Whitsundays has taken on the naming rights to the half-marathon event, the Turtle Club 1km walk/run and the overall event.
Cruise Whitsundays PR and media executive Alyce Carter said there would be a host of company volunteers staffing the water stations and many more actually running in the event.
"Post-cyclone, staff have been getting together and training together and some staff have committed to the 5km team business challenge," she said.
Ms Carter said the company had experienced reduced demand after the cyclone and training for the event offered a chance to bond and recover mentally from the hit dealt by Debbie.
Chief executive officer Nick Hortle said Cruise Whitsundays was a proud supporter of the festival and this event had seen significant growth and continued to boost visitor numbers to the area.
Gaining a reputation as one of the most scenic races in Australia, the running festival has become a drawcard for domestic andinternational tourists tothe region.
Oberg said it was a very exciting year for the Airlie Beach Running Festival, with new events on offer, including the Heart of the Reef marathon that takes in all the beautiful scenery of Airlie Beach.
"In 2016 we saw a record of 637 participants, making the event the largest onshore mass participation event in the Whitsunday region," he said.
Other events include the 2km Junior Dash, The Coffee Club 5km Fun Run, Mantra 10km Fun Run and Cruise Whitsundays Half Marathon.
To register visit www.runairlie.com.au.