Swim, ride, run: 9 child-friendly endurance events across Queensland
Forget cheering from the sidelines, a growing number of kids are joining mum and dad on the track, in the ocean and on the sand, giving family bonding a whole new meaning.
If you’re part of a fit family, sign the gang up, grab your bibs and run to Queensland’s top child-friendly endurance events.
The lowdown: Claiming to be one of the most challenging endurance races on the Aussie calendar, the Coolangatta Gold is the place to really test your stamina. Held on the weekend of October 6-7, 2018, this is when serious competitors kick off the surf season by hitting the sand at Coolangatta Beach. The main challenge is a 41.8km course that you can complete solo or as part of a team. If that’s too gruelling, check out the 21km “short course”.
Kids will love: Being on trend and joining the growing number of children signing up to the Youth Challenge, a competition that’s designed for aspiring lifesavers. The course is a fun mix of soft sand running, swimming, a board challenge and another two runs, and there are two age categories – under 11s and under 16s.
After the race: Indulge in a Coco Pops iced latte or brownie milkshake at Randy Wallhole in Southport. They make awesome jaffles, too.
GREAT BARRIER REEF MARATHON FESTIVAL
The lowdown: If you crave crazy challenges then sign up for the 74km insanity run at the chock-a-block Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival. If the thought of running that distance makes your muscles cry, don’t fret. There are a handful of other competitions, from 2.5km to 42km, making this October (Oct 28, 2018) event one for the entire family.
Kids will love: The 2km Junior Challenge in Port Douglas is a fantastic way to introduce the tiniest tots in the family to endurance racing as it’s open to kids as young as four. There is no cut-off time to complete the race, meaning everyone can have fun without worrying about snagging first place.
After the race: Learn how to snorkel on a family-friendly tour of the reef with Quicksilver Cruises.
NOOSA TRIATHLON MULTI SPORT FESTIVAL
The lowdown: As the oldest triathlon in Australia, it’s highly likely that if you’re reading this post you’ve already heard of this iconic event. But did you know the Noosa Tri also has the title of being both the largest Olympic-distance triathlon in the world and the biggest multi-sports festival in the Southern Hemisphere? What does that break down to? Plenty of competition options, including open criterium (cycling) races, an ocean swim, a special needs triathlon, a 5km breakfast fun run, and there’s even a charity golf day. You can register for multiple events as the festival is held across five days in October/November (Oct 31-Nov 4, 2018).
Kids will love: The Superkidz Triathlon for mini competitors aged seven to 13, and the Junior Run Swim Run for children eight and up. If your kids are mad cyclists, they’ll love tackling the Tour de Noosa, a recreational charity ride, while swimmers can enter a “family waves” category in the ocean swim.
After the race: Blow the budget on a Betty’s Burgers & Concrete Co. feast. No doubt everyone will deserve a little carb loading.
HAMILTON ISLAND TRIATHLON
The lowdown: As if you need another excuse to head to Hamilton Island but here it is anyway. This triathlon is a three-day event held in November (Nov 17-18, 2018) that caters to young and old. There is the main island triathlon, starting at pretty Catseye Beach, as well as an ocean swim meet (2km and 750m) at one of the Whitsundays most recognisable locations, Whitehaven Beach.
Kids will love: The Junior Hamilton Island Triathlon with its three distance categories based on experience not age, and the Splash’n Dash swim. Both events are open to kids from four to 14 years old. Teenagers aged from 14 can also compete in the main triathlon.
After the race: Hit up Hamilton Island’s Ice Cream Parlour for a well-deserved waffle cone.
MOOLOOLABA TRIATHLON FESTIVAL
The lowdown: The Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival has family written all over it, with the highlight being the Mooloolaba Twilight Run. It’s only 5km meaning kids can challenge their grandparents to a fun race while helping each other cross the finish line. If you want to try your hand (or rather your legs) at an ocean swim (minimum age 10), there is a 1km competition, too, plus a Special Tri catering to competitors with special needs. And let’s not forget the main event – the Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup – for athletes who really like to sweat. The next festival will be on March 15-17, 2019.
Kids will love: The aforementioned thrill of running with nan and pop in the multi-generational Twilight Run. For those who are more competitive, there’s the Superkidz Triathlon (aged 7-13), where they can show their prowess in the swim, cycle and running legs.
After the race: Shake “hands” with a cheeky seal at Sea Life Sunshine Coast or, even better, swim with one.
THE COOLY CLASSIC OCEAN SWIM
The lowdown: This is a World Series Ocean Swim event held at popular Coolangatta. The main race is the 2km Cooly Classic, which kicks off at famous Snapper Rocks and finishes at beautiful Kirra Beach. If that’s not enough, put your name down for the 3km Cooly or, if you’re new to ocean racing, give the Cooly 1000 (1km) a crack. In celebration of the event’s 10th birthday in 2019, a new 5km marathon course has been added to the line-up, giving experienced swimmers another opportunity to push themselves each April (April 14, 2019).
Kids will love: After cheering mum and dad on, teenagers can hit the water in the Junior Giants (1000m) race. It’s for kids aged 10-16, but family and friends can swim alongside them for support and fun.
After the race: Dry off at one of the Gold Coast’s iconic tourist attractions, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, famous for its resident rainbow lorikeets.
CAIRNS AIRPORT ADVENTURE FESTIVAL
The lowdown: Held in one of Queensland’s most idyllic destinations, this week-long adventure festival is just another reason to visit tropical Cairns. The biggest crowds turn out to watch the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship (June 9, 2019) and the IRONMAN 70.3, but there’s plenty of action in the water, too. For athletes keen to get wet, there is the impressive Quicksilver Reef Swim off stunning Green Island (try not to get distracted by the fish).
Kids will love: The McDonald’s IRONKIDS Cairns, a triathlon designed just for them. They’ll get to swim through the Esplanade Lagoon, ride along the Esplanade and run across the boardwalk. The main aim is to have fun and it’s easy to do with plenty of prizes to win. The Cairns Post Bright Night Run is a hoot for the whole family, with a course that glows. Make sure you dress up in fluoro.
After the race: Squeal your way through the incredible Daintree Rainforest on a Jungle Surfing Canopy Tour.
GOLD COAST MARATHON
The lowdown: Join 28,000 competitors from more than 50 countries as they battle it out in one of the world’s leading endurance events, the Gold Coast Marathon. There are eight races in total, including the main 42km GC marathon, a wheelchair marathon and a 10km run. It’s held in June or July (July 6-7, 2019) each year and is a great way to experience this stunning surfside city.
Kids will love: Putting all their energy to good use by hitting the pavement in the 2km and 4km Junior Dash races, as well as the Gold Coast Airport Fun Run. Children between the ages of five and 10 can enter the 2km event and can have a parent run with them if they need extra support. For the 4km event, the age bracket is five to 14, while there’s no age restrictions in the fun run, so why not make it a multi-generational day out?
After the race: Celebrate by heading to Dreamworld for a tiger selfie and be sure to say hello to a tree kangaroo, too.
MCDONALD’S TOWNSVILLE RUNNING FESTIVAL
The lowdown: If you find peace in hitting the pavement or you’re keen to get your calves burning, this is the festival for you. A whopping seven events make up an action-packed event that includes a marathon and half marathon, as well as 10km, 5km and 2.5km races. The festival has been running (pardon the pun) since 1972 and claims to feature Australia’s second longest held annual marathon. You can sign up to the next one held on August 4-5, 2019.
Kids will love: The 2.5km Hero Run, during which they can run or walk alongside Mum or Dad. Parents with bubs in prams will also love being able to enter this one. Families will relish the festival atmosphere, which promises to include a welcome dinner and after party.