They laugh, they sweat, they puff and they push – the Great Wheelbarrow Race is one of the major events on the Mareeba Shire calendar and this year, organisers are hoping to make it bigger and better!

Race Committee Chair Cr Nipper Brown said the first Great Wheelbarrow Race, held in 2004, wanted to honour the pioneering miners of the early 19th century, and to provide a boost to smaller communities along the way.

“The race has certainly evolved since then, with a lot of teams taking the opportunity to raise money for local charities. The 2016 event will be held from May 13-15, starting from Mareeba and finishing at Chillagoe, a distance of some 140km!” he said.

“Some teams go to remarkable lengths to raise money for their nominated charity during the lead-up to the race. Last year, competitors raised a total of $243,300 for a range of charities, including Make A Wish Foundation, Angel Flight, the Queensland Cancer Council, Ronald McDonald House, and the Indie Rose Foundation,” Cr Brown said.

“This is a great event because it brings the community together in a fun way to raise money for charity and it provides a real boost to those smaller towns like Dimbulah, Almaden and Chillagoe,” he said.

Cr Brown is calling for nominations for the race which is run in three stages – the first stage is from Mareeba to Dimbulah (50km), the second is from Dimbulah to Almaden (60km), and the third stage is Almaden to Chillagoe (30km).

Categories include Teams (female, male or mixed) of up to 10 people, Solo and Duo competitors, Over 35s and Over 55’s, School Students and Services (Police, SES, Firefighters, Defence Forces) and a newly added Social Category, which attracted several teams last year.

“For solo competitors, the event is quite a test of endurance, as they can be on the road pushing a wheelbarrow for up to nine hours each day.  This year we have added an over 55’s Category, for those teams who are a bit more mature but still competitive, ” Cr Brown said.

Many of the teams wear themed costumes for the first day of the race, making a colourful spectacle as they travel down Byrnes Street, Mareeba after the start at Davies Park.

Nominations close on 22 April 2016. Nominations forms are available from the Great Wheelbarrow Race website, www.greatwheelbarrowrace.com, Council’s website at www.msc.qld.gov.au or from your nearest Council Service Centre.

Council would also like to hear from businesses who might like to help sponsor the event. Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor should call Stacey Maisel on 0427 673 954.