15 May, 2023
Teams inspire all in 20-year race
A TEAM of Mareeba school boys with a “go hard or go home” attitude have smashed The Great Wheelbarrow Race record with a time of 6 hours, 24 minutes and 41 seconds after a successful weekend of racing for the 20th year.
Tune Squad was a close second in last year's competition and the team knew coming first was their only option this year, so they began training 12 months ago.
Last year, the boy’s overall time was 7 hours, 31 minutes and 32 seconds – nearly an hour faster than last year.
Race chair Cr Locky Bensted said Tune Squad had been working hard to get to this point and their dedication to stick together as a team for a year gave him hope for the next generation.
“Tune Squad wanted to win last year so they trained all year after the last race and fundraised whilst doing that,” he said.
“It was great to see them put in that hard work and if that’s our future generation, the future is in good hands.”
The second place winner this year was past champions Fit Bucks, with a total time of 06:28:28 and a team motto of "we're all a few years older than we used to be, so we'll see how we go!".
When it came to fundraising, it was team Wendy’s Joker Joes, who raised the most in this year’s competition, with a total of $31,552 for the Cancer Care Hub in Cairns.
Overall, teams raised $182,652 all together for their chosen causes, $51,197 more than last year's total.
Being the 20th race, there was an air of excitement amongst all the teams and Cr Bensted said he was proud of everyone’s efforts.
“It was absolutely sensational this year. The committee went above and beyond to bring the race together and we thank all the sponsors, Mareeba Shire Council, the volunteers and most importantly the teams who got involved,” he said.
“Watching those teams come across the finish line and the realisation on their face was incredible.
“Knowing the personal battles and knowing everyone’s journey and why they are here and to see what they have achieved is something else.”
Two teams which stood out to Cr Bensted throughout the entirety of the race were To Chillagoe to Cole and Wheelin’ for Willy.
To Chillagoe For Cole won the hearts of many on the Wheelbarrow Way and were the well-deserving recipients of The Sandy Butler Memorial Team Spirit award.
Running the 140km with a total time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 39 seconds in honour of Cole Wyatt who tragically lost his life in 2020, the team inspired many and had almost everyone tearing up during Cole’s mum and team member Lenore Wyatt’s speech at Sunday’s presentations.
“The biggest achievement would have to be winning the Sandy Butler Team Spirit Award – we had a massive team spirit, and we had a huge support team which is what we are all about,” she said.
“Everyone wanted to be there for Cole and to honour him, there was so much comradery, and we had a picture of Cole on the bus and in the wheelbarrow, so it was like he was with us every step of the way.
“I feel ‘mum proud’ of our team and the finishing on Mother’s Day really topped it for myself personally.”
Mrs Wyatt also congratulated their sister team The Jigglypuff Joggers, the volunteers and the committee for their hard work throughout the race.
Team Wheelin’ for Willy smashed the female category this year, crossing the finish line with a total time of 8 hours 40 minutes and 39 seconds in honour of young Willy Murdoch who lost his life in 2021.
“Those Wheelin’ for Willy ladies were so fun and so inspiring – their team spirits were there,” Cr Bensted said.
Other highlights during this year’s race were the Pipe Band, with the team of four racing every day whilst also performing at the downtown parade, each night and on Mother’s Day morning. Their efforts were recognised with a new award presented to them by the committee.
“It was a great event, and all competitors should give themselves a huge pat on the back,” Mr Bensted said.