TOP EFFORT: Adrian Whittaker from Port Douglas won the marathon event at the Airlie Beach Running Festival.
TOP EFFORT: Adrian Whittaker from Port Douglas won the marathon event at the Airlie Beach Running Festival. Monique Preston

From trying to lose weight, to winning a marathon

ATHLETICS: Twelve years ago Adrian Whittaker weighed 110kg and decided to get fit because his doctor told him his weight was unhealthy.

Last Sunday he won his first marathon.

Whittaker took out the 42.195 km event at the Airlie Beach Running Festival in a time of three hours and 15minutes.

It was only the third time the 40-year-old had competed in a marathon.

Whittaker took up running at the age of 28 after his doctor urged him to lose weight.

"Instead of crawling out of the pub at two or three o'clock in the morning like I used to, I'm just going for my run (now),” he said.

However, much of that time has been spent competing in ironman events and the Port Douglas resident said the two were quite different.

Competition was tough for Whittaker in Airlie Beach, with Proserpine's Justin Knight-Gray leading the way for most of the event.

It was not until the 37km mark that Whittaker, 40, thought he had a chance to win. And it was not for another couple of kilometres that he took the lead.

"I passed him (Knight-Gray) with about 2km to go,” he said.

At the time he was also concerned about Graeme Wessels, sitting in third position behind him.

"I was always wary about Graeme in third. He was gaining fast.

"I'm stoked,” Whittaker said of his win.

Knight-Gray finished one minute and 39 seconds behind Whittaker in a time of 3:16.39. Wessels, of Townsville, was close behind for third in 3:17.06.

Knight-Gray was pleased with his time after having already completed three marathons this year, with more still on the books.

"That's my fastest marathon this year,” he said.

It was also a step further up the podium for Knight-Gray after he finished third in last year's Airlie Beach Running Festival marathon.

"This year was a faster time than last year,” he said.

The fastest woman across the line in the marathon was Jodie Henley, who coincidentally is trained by Whittaker.

Henley finished in a time of 3:49.28 in what was also her third marathon.

"I've never had a podium before,” she said.

"I'm rapt. This is the first one I've come to where I haven't been injured or sick.”

While Henley has been "running for years”, she started training for marathons only in July last year and competed in her first event in October.

In Airlie Beach, she smashed her personal best by more than six minutes.

In the other big race last Sunday, a woman took out first place in the half marathon.

Claire Ashworth defeated all other contenders to win the event in 1:23.39.

Next best, and winner of the men's half marathon, was Roland Henderson in 1:27.51.

A total of 259 competitors took part in this year's seventh annual running festival, with the largest group - 89 - taking part in the half marathon.

The 5km run with 66 competitors and the 10km run with 59 runners attracted the next largest fields.

Twenty took part in the marathon, while 21 runners in seven teams competed in the half marathon and there were 28 competitors in the 5km corporate teams event.

For the youngsters, the 2km run was also popular with 50 people taking part, while 26 took part in the 1km kids' run.

Running Festival winners

Marathon: Winner Adrian Whittaker 3:15.00; first woman Jodie Henley 3:49.28.

Half marathon: Winner Claire Ashworth 1:23.29; first man Roland Henderson 1:27.51.

10km run: Winner Colin McIntosh 38.41; first woman Rebekka Bichsel 52.40.

5km run: Winner James Henry 18.29; first woman Danielle Sansonetti 21.37.

2km run: Winner Max McLeod 10.44; first girl Khloe Quagliata 12.24.

1km kids' run: Winner Ashton Zweers 05.22; first girl Chilli Davis 05.59.

Half marathon relay: Winner and mixed winner What's Better than Eating a Mandarin 1:33.56; men's winner Keeping Up with the Kenyans 1:47.36; women's winner 3 of Us 1:50.25.

5km corporate team challenge: Male Jack Telford 18.29; female Samantha Sticklan 23.48.

  • For full results from the Airlie Beach Running Festival, visit

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