What is the O’Keefe Challenge?
#Please note the following post is unsponsored
The O’Keefe Rail Trail is my local rail trail and a place that I love for either cycling or walking. It runs from Bendigo to Heathcote, a distance of aboout 50k. The O’Keefe Challenge started off, a few years ago, as the O’Keefe Marathon, the first marathon to be run on a rail trail. I’m not sure if it’s still the only one, but it’s now an annual event, with a full program of running, walking and cycling events, on the rail trail and in Heathcote. The event has grown every year, with athletes coming from all over Australia to participate in this much loved event. In previous years there have been overseas participants, but that won’t be possible this year, due to Covid-19. Importantly, The O’Keefe is open to all fitness levels and caters for families.
However, the O’Keefe is much more than a fitness event. It’s an event focused on community, and is a fundraiser for the Heathcote Dementia Village Project, which, when complete, is expected to change the way dementia patients are treated.
There are many fun, community events planned at the Marathon finish line, on Barrack Reserve, featuring a kids zone and “come and try” activities.
Run or Walk
The following running or walking events are this year held on Sunday 02 May, with the main event of the weekend, being the Marathon. The O’keefe caters to all ages and all fitness levels. There is a ‘tail end Charlie’ with radio communication to organisers, so slower participants are never left alone.
Following are the run/walk events:
- Half Marathon
- 5km Run/Walk Against Dementia
- 1km Kids Dash
- 500 metre superhero kids dash
Wenlock Olympian medals are presented to the male and female marathon winners. This is very special as the O’Keefe Challenge is the only event outside England to have the honour of presenting these medals. All other participants will also receive a medal on the day.
For those who don’t feel they have a marathon in them, it’s possible to form a team, and run the distance as a relay. There are many team categories able to enter, making this is a great opportunity for shorter length runners to join in the fun of a marathon. The relays are very popular events on the calendar.
The cycle event is a social ride called Light The Night and held on the Friday night, on the rail trail, following the Marathon course, from Bendigo through to Heathcote. Axedale is a point where shorter course riders can join in. It’s a fun night with riders decorating and lighting up their bikes. Prizes are given for The Best Illuminated Outfit, Best Lit Bike and an encouragement award for those demonstrating the “spirit of The O’Keefe”. The ride finishes at the brewery in Heathcote for refreshments and light entertainment.
I am hoping to participate in the cycle event this year, although I haven’t committed yet, as it depends on my arm, which is still mending. It seems as though it will be ok, but I’d like to test it out a few more times before entering. And then there is my fitness level…….well that’s another matter entirely.
I have been on the spin bike trying to get my cycling fitness back. I plan to combine both the spin bike with my rail trail bike to build fitness. Enough to say, that if I enter, I will have to work hard on my cycling fitness in the next few weeks.
I receive no payments from the organisers of the O’Keefe Marathon for this post. I was involved on the organising committee a few years ago, and really enjoyed my experience. The only reason I gave it up was that I had taken on too much at the time, and something had to give. Unfortunately, it was this event that I had to give up. Even though I’m no longer officially involved, I’m still a huge supporter of the event.
For more information: O’Keefe Challenge
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