Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Cairns Answers Challenge; Reporter Kieran Campbell Discovers a Festival of Fitness and Dearth of Winter in North Queensland

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Cairns Answers Challenge; Reporter Kieran Campbell Discovers a Festival of Fitness and Dearth of Winter in North Queensland

Article excerpt

SPINNING excitedly in her seat, the woman rests on her knees so she can talk with the friend behind her.

Her loose brunette curls are pinned away from her face as the plane starts to taxi.

C[pounds sterling]I'm excited about the swim,C[yen] she chirps.

A sleeveless white cotton coat over a pink skivvy shows off her athletic frame.

She is not out of place.

The majority of passengers look to be in peak fitness on this flight (all bar the pot-bellied, rough older man next to me who is hogging the armrest and barking orders down his mobile phone before take-off).

Two hours after we leave Brisbane, we touch down in Cairns and join a parade of fit and healthy people who have filled the Tropical North Queensland city's streets.

Like a festival of vitamins, healthiness seems to leak from them all.

And fortunately so, because they are not here for your typical Cairns holiday.

This is the inaugural Cairns Challenge: a week of swimming, riding and running events capped on the Sunday by a massive ironman-style race.

In the region that boasts to be adventurous, thousands of athletes have travelled for a mighty escapade.

On the Sunday, it is an early morning wake to watch the start of what would become a 12-plus- hour race for many.

On a 6am bus ride to Yorkeys Knob, I'm left with a seat beside a woman who looks on top of the world.

A retiring Desley Boyle, the State Member for Cairns since 1999, talks jovially to her fellow passengers about the exciting weekend.

She gleefully spruiks C[pounds sterling]the gem in Queensland's crownC[yen] that is her buzzing electorate, and it's a hard analogy to argue with.

At this hour, the sun has barely started to light up the glistening emerald waters or the opal green mountain ranges.

But you know they are there because, in a few hours, they will be swum through or cycled over by the masses. …

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