Games batonbearers hit the pavement in Airlie Beach
FOURTEEN prominent Whitsunday community members yesterday each took it in turns to help the Queen's Baton on its epic journey from England to the Gold Coast ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Beginning at the Abell Point Marina, former Hamilton Island based athlete, Stephen Jackson got the southern Whitsunday leg underway before offloading the torch to Christian Turner and then on to parkrun Australia manager Tim Oberg, who took in the south village of the marina before again passing the baton to Georgia Murray at the Coral Sea Resort.
Up and coming young javelin star Howard McDonald took the baton down Broadwater Av before spearing it onto Jan Claxton of Ocean Rafting.
David Hinschen then got a hold of the baton and ran it up Main St in Airlie Beach to the delight of the crowds lining the street.
Zonta Whitsunday founding member and accomplished athlete Wendy Downes continued the march up the main street before passing the baton to Heather Batrick who in turn handed it to Howard Barnett and Lee-Anne Hinschen who handed the torch to Lisa Christofersen.
Gloria Demartini took the torch through Fairy Tree Park before handing it onto former branch manager of the Whitsunday PCYC, sergeant John 'Dicko' Dickinson, who ran the torch through the lagoon.
Communications manager of the Queen's Baton Relay Trish Quayle from the Airlie Beach lagoon yesterday was happy to report the Whitsunday event went off without a hitch.
"Being able to run along scenic and picturesque roads and carry the Queen's Baton back up here towards the lagoon with the back drop of the Coral Sea is is absolutely magic," she said.
Having travelled 230,000km on a 388-day trip around the world the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton will today head to Hamilton Island before taking in the sights of Mackay.
Ms Quayle said the organisers understood many supporters of the Commonwealth Games would not actually attended the games and the relay was a way of helping everyone in the Commonwealth feel they were part of the celebrations.
"What started as a tradition has grown to be a global force for inclusion and inspiring people to let them know they are part of the Commonwealth," she said.
"So the people here in Airlie Beach are connected to the people in Uganda who had the Queen's Baton 12 months ago.
"It connects those people and lets them know they are not forgotten... and more importantly they are part of this history making Commonwealth Games being hosted here in Australia."
Mr Dickinson ran the final leg of the relay when he threaded his way through a guard of honour made up of Whitsunday batonbearers who carried the torch for the lead-up to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
He said it was a great honour to be chosen.
"It was very exciting and I feel very privileged to represent the Whitsunday community doing such a prestigious event," he said.
"I saw it not only for me but for all the workers who over the 15 years at the PCYC along with myself."
Mr Dickinson thanked Gloria Demartini for organising the 1956 Olympic torch bearers.
"I am very chuffed and honoured. You don't do what you do in the community for the accolades but I am very happy that someone has recognised all the work I have put in over the years."
For manager of parkrun Australia, Tim Oberg, the highlight of Baton Relay was the opportunity to share the moment with his family.
"The kids on the course were so excited," he said.
"The bigger picture, I am representing parkrun and although it is a personal accolade it a great acknowledgement for the whole organisation."
A joint celebration of the seventh anniversary of parkrun Australia and the Commonwealth Games will take place on the Gold Coast on April 7.
Across the country, batonbearers will take more than a million steps to take the baton to its final destination, the Games' Opening Ceremony on April 4.