Community & Business

14 May, 2024


THEY’RE fast and they were determined to win – Tune Squad has claimed overall victory over 33 other teams in the 21st Great Wheelbarrow Race, smashing their previous record by two minutes, and winning the Men’s category as well.

RECORD BREAKERS! - feature photo

The race was a great success, raising more than $93,000 for various charities and notching up some priceless promotion for the Mareeba Shire at the same time, with two national broadcasters along for the ride.The dust might have settled on the 21st Great Wheelbarrow Race but the priceless promotion the Mareeba Shire received from two national broadcasters covering the event will continue to pay off well into the future.

All the quirky characters of the race were showcased on Friday morning on Channel 7’s Sunrise program, while the ABC’s Back Roads crew travelled with the teams all the way to Chillagoe for a program to be aired early next year.

Weatherman Sam Mac interviewed chief marshal and Wheelbarrow Race Committee chair Cr Kevin Davies as well as teams such as Chillagoe for Cole, who were dressed as super heroes, Dad’s Army, and Missy’s Donors who loved the exposure, giving the viewers a cheeky hello by stripping down to their Speedos for the camera. They also gifted Sam Mac a pair to remember them by.

The fun continued at 9.30am on Friday when hundreds of locals lined Byrnes Street for the Downtown Parade before the competitors got serious and started their run to Dimbulah.

The event, which attracted 34 teams this year, went off without incident, according to Cr Davies who said apart from the usual “scratches and scrapes”, everyone made it to the finish line in Chillagoe on Sunday.

Overall, the teams raised $93,342 for their chosen charities, adding to the overall money raised during the 21 years of the race to $2,636,943.

The highest amount of money raised was $20,000 for Vision Australia by the GTB 2024 for Vision Australia team.

Teams were out to smash the records this year, with three broken in the Men’s, Ladies and Trio categories.

Tune Squad was named the overall winner of the race, notching up a record time of 6.22.28 and beating their previous record by around two minutes which they set last year when they won the School category and the overall title. 

Second overall in the race was Rusty Wheels and third was St Stephen’s Catholic College. 

“The race went extremely well, with a new race record of 6 hours 22 minutes and 28 seconds by the reigning champions, Tune Squad. That is an average of around 22km per hour,” Cr Davies said.

In the Ladies category, Wheely Pushy Women smashed the previous record with a time of 8.38.18, with the team having competed several times, raising tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

After getting national exposure on Sunrise, Missy’s Donors were determined to win the Trio title this year and ending up setting a new record of 8.22.53.

The popular Dad’s Army were also out for the win, taking the title in the Over 55’s category, while St Stephen’s Catholic College overcame their rivals to win the Schools category.

First time soloist Doctor Julian Picot did it the hard way, claiming victory in the Solo category over the only other solo runner, Conor Harnischfeger, while Rusty Wheels won the Mixed category, and Costa Berries took out the Social category

Costa Berries also picked up the Sandy Butler Memorial Team Spirit Award. 

Giblet n the Hairyman battled it out with three other Duo teams to take the win.

Cr Davies summed up the whole event as “a great three days” and hoped all the teams would compete again next year.

“We had good weather, a bit of cloud on the first two days, which helps the runners, and a beautiful sunny day to finish off in Chillagoe on Sunday,” he said.

He paid homage to the Wheelbarrow Race Committee and the many valuable volunteers that assist during the race.

“We wouldn’t have a race without the committee and the volunteers and I hope they will be back to join us again in 2025,” he said.

He was excited about the promotion the race generated this year for the Mareeba Shire.

“With Back Roads scheduled to air early next year, that’s perfect timing for us to get the nominations open early,” Cr Davies said.

“It’s also great timing to air the show in the wet season because it might lure more visitation to the shire during the dry season next year.”


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