General News

26 April, 2023

Inaugural chair named face of 20-year race

TWO decades after the first Great Wheelbarrow Race was held, the man behind the idea and its main driver, Mick Borzi OAM, has been named the 2023 Face of the Race.

By Rhys Thomas

2023 Face of the Race Mick Borzi OAM with committee chair, Mareeba Shire councillor Locky Bensted
2023 Face of the Race Mick Borzi OAM with committee chair, Mareeba Shire councillor Locky Bensted

Mr Borzi, who is one of Mareeba’s most influential figures having held the positions of Chairman and Mayor of Mareeba over many years, came up with the idea for the race back in 2004.

With a desire to honour the mining pioneers of the area, Mr Borzi was the driving force for the creation of The Great Wheelbarrow Race, which has grown astronomically over the past 20 years, raising more than $2 million for a plethora of charities across Australia and the world.

Mr Borzi feels extremely honoured to be named the Face of the Race in 2023.

“It feels great because when we first set it up, it was to honour and remember the people who opened up this country,” he said.

“It took, I believe, courage, enthu-siasm and a degree of patriotism for these people to give their time and effort to make this area develop and grow.

“I thought it was appropriate to honour them and, in doing so, having an event that raises money for good causes.”

The thought never crossed his mind that 20 years after the race was established, he would be the one to lead the parade down Mareeba’s main street – an honour bestowed on the Face of the Race each year.

“My aim, my purpose was to honour the people and to raise funds,” Mr Borzi said.

“When you do those things, the last thing you do is think about is yourself.

“I could not have honestly believed that the race would grow to the extent that it did but I give full praise to the committees that continue to raise it and organise it.”

Great Wheelbarrow Race committee chair councillor Locky Bensted said it was “very fitting” to announce Mr Borzi as the Face of the Race on its 20th anniversary year.

“It was Mick’s idea in 2004 to establish the race for the purpose he has already outlined but it was a no brainer,” he said.

“He set the wheels in motion for an event that is not only recognised in Queensland, but interstate and internationally.

“I don’t think there is an event like this in Australia that attract the mix of people that we get at one time.”

As Mr Borzi is just a few months away from celebrating his 90th birthday, Mareeba Golf Club has loaned him their Bendigo Bank buggy to use for the parade down Byrnes Street in front of hundreds of people, something he is eagerly looking forward to.

“Every race has been important, there have been different people of different ages and it is just fantastic to see the participation that results in this event,” Mr Borzi said.

“Naturally you would feel overcome by the response and the reactions.”


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