News

Marathon effort to include everyone

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January 18, 2017

Bree Mellberg and Joe Chivers of the Bendigo Braves wheelchair basketball team are part of the O'Keefe Rail Trail Marathon organising team.

THE O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon is set to be one of the biggest events in Heathcote in 2017 with every member of the community catered for.

Under an all-inclusive umbrella, the marathon will have categories for runners, walkers, cyclists and people with a disability.

This year’s event sees the introduction of the 5km Run Cycle Walk and Roll the O’Keefe, an event targeted at mothers and babies, grandmas and grandpas and those with a disability.

This provides families with the chance to participate together and experience a great day of fun and enjoyment.

The Ekiden Relay is also on again. Each team comprising seven members will run the 42.195km marathon sharing the distance.

Event director Sandra Slatter said there were more opportunities for participants in 2017.

‘‘This year we are delighted to announce that the event has been opened up to mums and bubs, and those with a disability,’’ she said.

‘‘We really want the O’Keefe Marathon to have something for everyone in the community.’’

All Inclusive — All Abilities is one of the key objectives that organisers of the marathon are determined to enforce.

Disabled toilets will be available for participants along the way, while organisers are also making arrangements for a ‘trail rider’, a special all-terrain chair to allow someone with a disability to experience the rail trail.

Ms Slatter believes this opportunity has never been presented in a marathon before, and organisers are on the lookout for people to be trained as ‘Sherpas’ to help with the transportation of the participant. Any expressions of interest would be appreciated.

Another new event is the inaugural Cycle the O’Keefe. This recreation event, with the help of Bike Bendigo and the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, will feature five different ride events aimed at both the experienced and novice riders and will add yet another dimension to the already exciting marathon program.

Friends of Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail president Garry Long said the new opportunities would ensure the O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon becomes an event not to be missed.

‘‘Cycle the O’Keefe will be all about participation, plus helping to promote the many features of the O’Keefe Rail Trail,’’ Mr Long said.

‘‘With the combined events of the O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon and Cycle the O’Keefe, this whole weekend has the exciting potential to become a major event on the tourism and athletics calendar.

To keep updated with the O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon, visit www.theokeefe.com.au

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