The Flinders Island Running Festival has been going for ten years. It is held on the last weekend in August and usually coincides with Father’s Day on the Sunday. The whole event is run by volunteers - and Flinders Island, according to the Australian Census some years ago, had the highest rate of volunteerism in Australia. So, to have such a well run event is a really praiseworthy achievement!
One of my neighbours jokes that his daughter only comes at this time of the year, to the Running Festival - and not to see him. I however, know this is just plain wrong! I know that the whole family, along with many others, participate in the fun atmosphere of the Running Festival weekend and everyone makes sure dads enjoy Father’s Day.
The weekend starts with a dinner held at the Sports Club where an inspirational figure who has usually been an elite athlete or been on the running circuit, is the guest speaker. Pasta dishes are part of the smorgasbord dinner. Steve Monaghetti, the first guest speaker and entrant in the Ultra Marathon then, still holds the record time.
On Saturday, there’s the ultra marathon. I overheard a contestant in the ultra marathon a couple of years ago say she had never been on such a well organised and picturesque course. Another this year couldn’t believe the luxury of having her running rubbish collected.
There’s the Pub to Pub on the Saturday too which leaves either the Flinders Island Interstate Hotel in Whitemark and finishes at the Furneaux Tavern at Lady Barron - or the other way around. This year the contestants left the Interstate in Whitemark so the hike up the steep Martin’s Hill was part of the run.
Then on Sunday, there’s the Flinders Island Aboriginal Association's (FIAA) Five - originally done during Naidoc week but transferred and sponsored at the Running Festival now as a 5 km or 2 km run, walk or stroll for everyone. A couple of years back, an island resident who was over a hundred at the time, Mary McTier, even went in the 2 km walk. Families push babies in prams or older relatives in chairs. Two and three year olds roll along on pedal-less two wheel bikes and Nordic pole walkers stride along. Serious runners can try and beat the record - others can jog along nd enjoy themselves.
At the end of the FIAA Flinders Five, there’s lunch followed by the presentations and thanks to all the volunteers who made such a wonderful event possible.
Fig 6 & 7 - it’s a real family affair - mum, dad, brother, sister, aunty, nephews; all are welcome.