Thursday, May 25, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The absolute passion and drive that fuels Wendy Downes OAM is clear, illuminating everything she does.
When Wendy and her husband John moved to Airlie Beach in 1998, she brought her passion for running, cycling, and competing with her.
However, Airlie Beach was sorely lacking in any runners or bikers.
“There was nothing here at all,” Wendy said.
“But once we started, it just started to build.”
Wendy was a “maniac runner”, competing in numerous Sydney City to Surfs, the Six Foot Track Marathons, the Royal Park Marathon, and the 1994 Duathlon World Championships, where she finished 4th.
“Running is a part of me,” she said.
“It feels like I’m floating.”
Wendy began the Whitsunday Running Club and championed the various running events of Airlie Beach, including the Airlie Beach Festival of Sport, the Whitsunday Trail Fest, Parkrun, and the Whitsunday Triathlon Club.
In more recent times, Wendy has moved onto being a Technical Official for various triathlons, including being involved in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on the Gold Coast in 2018.
In 2015, she was honoured with an Order of Australia, for her involvement in the Whitsundays and to recreational running.
And in 2018, Wendy carried the Queens Baton Relay through Airlie Beach.
“It felt good. Absolutely amazing,” Wendy said.
“Those two honours are really special to me.”
“When I look back, I would go back and do every single one again.”
Wendy expects that the 2023 Airlie Beach Triathlon, scheduled for July 29 and 30, to be the biggest one yet.
Wendy Downes is a power marathon runner and avid community supporter. Photo supplied