Running to victory
THERE'S no two ways about it, the 2015 Airlie Beach Running Festival was a runaway success - pun intended.
Attracting a record 620 competitors from throughout the nation and even the world, the event's attendance easily overtook past years, with an incredible 60 per cent jump in entrants from last year.
The visiting talent posed no match for a rising local star, however, with Proserpine resident Blake Hardy-Young claiming first place in Sunday's Balance Podiatry 5km race.
Blake said the run had been a tough task but the rewards were worth it.
"I was just dying for the last little bit," he said.
"(When I crossed the line) I just regained all my energy. I felt sick as well but it was definitely worth it - just the feeling of finishing."
The 17-year-old said his love of running began with his mother.
"My crazy mother wakes up at like 4am every morning to go for a run, so she started dragging me out of bed to go for runs as well," he said.
Two years on, Blake said he entered the race "solely as a test against myself".
"I wanted to see how fast I could go because before that event the fastest I'd run 5km was 20 minutes, and then in that event I ended up running it in 18 minutes," he said.
Despite his new title, Blake said he didn't think he would consider a professional career.
"It's more of a fitness hobby," he said. Mum was "pretty proud", however.
In other results, Stephen Jackson of Hamilton Island claimed the half-marathon for the men while Liz Maguire of Townsville was top runner in the women, James Maguire of Townsville won the men's Port of Airlie 10km with Jennifer Barbour claiming it for the women, the Balance Podiatry 5km women's winner was Demelza Ansell of Jubilee Pocket, and Team GSL took out the Corp 5km Challenge.