Community & Business

11 March, 2022

Downtown parade set to return

AFTER years on the backburner, the highly-anticipated Great Wheelbarrow Race is set to make an exciting comeback to its original three-day format in May and with it, the return of the ever-popular downtown parade.

By Rhys Thomas

The Great Wheelbarrow Race downtown parade will return to Byrnes Street this May to kick off the race from Mareeba to Chillagoe.
The Great Wheelbarrow Race downtown parade will return to Byrnes Street this May to kick off the race from Mareeba to Chillagoe.

Since its inception in 2003, The Great Wheelbarrow Race has raised nearly $2 million for different charities or causes and brought thousands of runners and their supporters to the region as they participate in the 140km journey to from Mareeba to Chillagoe or vice versa. 

The race not only brings awareness to a multitude of important charities, it also acts as a fantastic boost for the small communities it travels through. 

However, in recent years the race has been cancelled outright due to Covid regulations and restrictions, much to the disappointment of runners and local communities. 

This year, the great race returns to its original format with no restrictions, meaning the downtown parade will once again precede the gruelling marathon from Mareeba to Chillagoe. 

As this year’s event will start in Mareeba, residents have the opportunity to once again line Byrnes Street for the downtown parade and cheer on the teams as they start the great race. 

The parade features teams in costume walking down the street handing out lollies, wrist bands and anything else they can to the eager bystanders. 

Great Wheelbarrow Race Committee chair Locky Benstead says the downtown parade is a key part of the race and gets the community involved in the one-of-a-kind event done nowhere else in the world. 

“The key that I think a lot of people have forgotten is, this is done nowhere else - this is a race that is completely unique to us here in Far North Queensland,” he said. 

“The original format, which includes the downtown parade, is critical to running a successful race, it adds a little bit more to the event. 

“It means that teams can be recognised before they’ve even run the race and it’s an opportunity for the whole of Mareeba itself to go and see a race that is done nowhere else.” 

This year’s event is set to take place over three days running from 20-22 May. Registrations are currently open with a number of different categories from social to competitive teams, trios, duos or solos. 

Nominations close on 19 April so head to to register your interest today.


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