Community & Business

30 March, 2023

Dad’s Army returns to race once again

THE famous and seasoned Great Wheelbarrow Race team, Dad’s Army, has signed on for another year in the 20th anniversary of the 140km endurance race despite members every year swearing that it would be their last.

By Rhys Thomas

This year’s Great Wheelbarrow Race Dad’s Army team are excited to have yet another crack at the 140km race in May
This year’s Great Wheelbarrow Race Dad’s Army team are excited to have yet another crack at the 140km race in May

Dad’s Army is undoubtably the most recognisable and popular team to run in the Great Wheelbarrow Race and while they might not be the quickest, they always make sure to get over the line.

The team is comprised of ex-servicemen from each of Australia’s armed forces, Army, Navy and Air Force and while they may bicker about which branch is better, they always band together each year for the race.

The team is known for their never-say-die attitude, interesting fundraising ways and performances in the now discontinued talent quest, which once saw them perform un-synchronised swimming in budgie smugglers and swimming caps.

The average age of the runners for last year’s race was 73 with the oldest runner this year turning 86 in October.

Lawrence Leggette, Peter Gerdes, Gra-ham Morrow, John Stirrup and Gary Morgan are some of the teams most experienced runners and were part of the first ever Dad’s Army team.

Mr Gerdes said Dad’s Army was born to keep RSL members healthy and fit and provide a supportive atmosphere.

“What happens with ex-military people is you have an event and get together afterwards and over a bit of alcohol some of the other members approached me and said ‘How about we do the wheelbarrow race we need to get fit’,” he said.

“Under the influence of alcohol we stupidly said yes and then we got a big shock the first year in 2013 but when we worked out what we had to do, we took three hours off our time the next year and that’s when Dad’s Army really started to function.

“But it was ultimately a result of us trying to get a bit fit.”

The team are training hard at their favourite gym, Essential Fitness in Mareeba for this year’s race as they continue to raise money for the Mareeba RSL Sub-branch and the Mareeba Hospital.

For this year’s race Dad’s Army includes its first ever female team captain, Debra Kuhnert who raced previously.

As Dad’s Army is typically one of the slowest teams in the race, it is a Wheelbarrow Race tradition for each team to line-up at each leg’s finish line and cheer Dad’s Army home.

“It is great, it really is great,” Mr Gerdes said.

“Some of the guys say ‘never again’ at the end of the race and then the very next day ‘yeah next year.”

While the team is never short any “new” blood for runners this year they are desperately in need of a new bus as their old reliable has broken down.

If you would like to follow Dad’s Army’s journey through the Great Wheelbarrow Race this 12,13 and 14 of May give them a follow on Facebook and if you have a possible solution for their bus problem, call Ms Kuhnert on 0488 927 010.


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