Mackay Road Runners 40th Anniversary
Apr 16 2016
Mackay Road Runners Club turns 40 this month! It takes a very special group of passionate people to initiate the start of a Club and even more special people to continue its legacy into the future.
Ian Phillips, who started running at 23 years of age in 1975, was one of only a few runners in 1976 keen to join forces with some big ideas generated by two newcomers to the Mackay region. Brian Fiegert landed in Mackay from Adelaide and Dave Sedgman, who hailed from Victoria were passionate runners keen to replicate a running community like their own home towns.
Ian quotes back in the seventies, no one ran much in Mackay, just a few people doing middle distance running on a track via athletics clubs. Ian loved to run and found it difficult to find like-minded individuals, so in the early days, he would do all his running on the road on his own. Ian’s introduction to Club running was when he joined the Sarina Athletics Club in the early seventies, when there was only three athletics clubs in the area. There was no such thing as the Mackay Road Runners Club or any similar group. Ian explains how the Mackay Road Runners Club began……
Once upon a time (and this is not a fairy-tale) Dave Sedgman was driving to Eungella when he saw a man running on the side of the road, Brian Fiegert. Dave was so elated to see someone else who was running, that he stopped and got talking to Brian about all things running, a very passionate subject for both of them. Dave and Brian decided to organise a Fun Run to find out if there were more runners out there who would be keen to form a group. Road running was very difficult to affiliate with any of the current clubs, so they decided to form a distance running club, which proved difficult to promote to the locals as it was such a new concept. They contacted the local radio station, 4MK in Sydney Street, where they got huge support from the local radio jock, Mackay’s current Mayor, Greg Williamson. Greg got his radio station to assist Dave & Brian in being the major sponsor of a 10km Fun Run from the Shamrock Hotel to the Mackay Harbour. Greg promoted the event on the radio so well, that over two hundred people entered the event, for which Ian has glowing praise for Greg’s efforts in assisting the running scene at that time.
When Ian heard the radio ad, he was so excited to hear of such an event, that he immediately entered the race in a bid to mingle with other road runners. Ian humbly admitted to the writer that he won the race, but was even more thrilled to receive a letter two weeks later inviting him for his interest in signing up for a running club. Ex local, Trevor Baldock, who came 5th in the Fun Run also received an invitation and this was where they all met for the very first time and how the Mackay Road Runners Club originated with a total of six members, but they did increase to ten members in twelve months! Brian introduced the successful handicapping system used at his Adelaide Club and this is still being used by Mackay Road Runners to this day.
The original name of the club was The Mackay Distance Running Club, however, the Members decided to change the name to Mackay Road Runners Club as they felt the word ‘distance’ was a bit intimidating. Brian approached Warner Brothers to seek permission to use the cartoon road runner bird (beep beep) as its logo. This was an enormous task, as they had to prove they were not financially gaining from its use and that the club would use the image in a very positive format. Warner Brothers finally gave the Club approval, which was a rarity in the day. The Club values the approval so much that it still retains the current logo, especially revered by the longer serving Members, who are very proud to have the privilege of this logo as their Club’s brand.
Ian said 10km’s was the maximum distance the club organised and was classed as their Signature event, however, this lengthened after approximately two years. His favourite distance is the 10km where his personal best time for this on the track was 30 minutes 58 seconds. His longest race was the Utah Hay Point to Sarina 30km road run, which was an annual Mackay Road Runners event for several years. Ian said in the early eighties, the marathon boom kicked in, but he preferred the track events. Ian was a very elite runner who included a lot of sprinting, hills and sand dunes in his training regime, with mainly water and a very good balanced diet for nutrition. Ian was awarded The Best Performance in Queensland for his triple titles in the 1500 metres, 5000 metres and 10,000 metres, which was a very hard achievement at that time. Ian also played Rugby League, but was too light to withstand the rigours of the full contact sport, finding running much more to his liking. He loved running in the North Queensland heat and found this a massive endurance asset when competing at other competitions within the State.
Another major feat in 1977 achieved by Ian was his contribution in a team of ten runners, in breaking the Australian 24hr marathon relay record. This marathon record attempt was a relay run at the Ooralea racetrack where Ian and his team smashed the current record by more than 18 miles, previously set by a South Australian team. All runners, who were sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Lions Club, had to run a mile in succession with the youngest runner being fifteen and the eldest being Brian Fiegert (46 years) and Dave Sedgman (49 years). Trevor Baldock was also a member of the record breaking team. The event also raised funds for the needy via the World Service Day Project.
By the late eighties, with the Club having progressed to approx forty members, Ian retired from running and the Club due to family commitments, however, his love of the Club has not waned, as he still retains the coveted Club Member # 1 race number. Even though Ian no longer runs, he avidly follows the Club’s progress and continues to pay his membership in support of his beloved Club. The # 2 Membership belongs to Trevor Baldock, who was also a major contributor to the club in its origin, also continues to loyally pay his membership each year despite not running with the Club for several years. Ian and Trevor’s support is very highly valued by the Club and its current Members.
Ian regularly catches up with many past members, including Marathon runner, Fred Saliba (pictured) who was once #3 member in the club. The current Member #3 has now been retired, forever belonging to one of Mackay Road Runners famous marathoners, the now deceased and very much missed, Fred Farmer. Saliba, himself a very successful marathon runner, can be attributed to formally introducing Farmer to the marathon running scene, where his successes rival many local and interstate performances.
Ian credits Brian Fiegert and Dave Sedgmen for setting the fitness tone forty years ago for Mackay, with Dave also opening the first gym in Mackay above the current Healthpoint Pharmacy in Sydney Street. Dave also sought the expertise of Muriel Mulder who started ladies exercise classes at the same premises. (The writer remembers going to Muriel’s classes with her Mum and Sister!)
Ian, who will be speaking and cutting the special birthday cake at this Sunday morning’s Farmer’s Gallop 6km & 17km hosted by Life Member Agnes Farmer, congratulates the Mackay Road Runners Club on their 40th birthday and their outstanding reputation locally, nationally and internationally. He is so proud of the work done by all previous and the current committee in retaining the Club’s excellent standing within the community.
The Mackay Road Runners Club are ecstatic to have Ian among their ranks as a loyal supporter and welcome all past and existing Members to join them this Sunday morning at 62 Evans Avenue, North Mackay. Those wishing to run, please arrive at 6am, however, those who just want to catch up post-race, are invited to arrive approximately 7am for post-race refreshments/cake. The Club will be doing several informal celebrations throughout the year at a few historical calendar runs, however, the formal birthday gala will be held at the annual awards night on 15th October.