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Follow your Rainbow...

Rainbow Beach Trail festival
The Carlo Sand Blow is perched high above the Coral Sea, with runners crossing twice. Picture: The Deck Studio

The secret’s out – the Rainbow Beach Trail Festival is the must-do event on the trail calendar for its combination of tough running and sublime landscape.

This year was our absolute biggest yet, with record entries in all distances and so many new faces and running groups represented – NUTRS, Gladstone Road Runners, Wildrunners Tannum Sands, Blood Sweat and Beers, South Pine Striders, Caboolture Road Runners, BTR, Mountain Goats, Race Pace Coaching, Wooters Runners, QMA, Light the Trail, Wide Way Running Chicks, Girls Run This Town, SunCo RunCo, Bargara Triathlon, Fraser Coast Runners and Walkers, Bundaberg Road Runners,Trailblazers, Bmee Coaching, Bunya Belles, Sunny Coast Darkrunners, University of Qld.

The competition on course is also getting tougher and we saw the marathon and half marathon men’s times smashed by some speedsters (more on that later).

Thank-you to everyone for attending this weekend getaway / running event.

About 360 entrants made the trip to this stunning coastal region, with so many runners getting their first ever taste of what are arguably Queensland’s most stunning trails.

The first trailies hit out in the dark at 6am with the marathoners racing across the Carlo Sand Blow just as the sun broke over the horizon.

By the time the half marathoners belted off the start line an hour later, the rising sun was casting its orange glow over the sand hill.

By 8am we had all runners on course and it wasn’t long to wait until the first 11km racers came tearing over the finish line, before the trickle of runners crossing turned into a steady stream.

Rainbow Beach Trail Festival
Dawn breaks as the marathon runners cross the sand hill. Picture: The Deck Studio

There was some fierce competition on the trails this year and some records tumbled. It was as though the never-ending hills and sand were no obstacle for half marathon men’s winner Ben Wriede who blitzed the course in 1:31.01 .

Marathon first-place-getter Justin Whitley pounced over the line in 3:40:08 (after placing 4th at UTA) and setting a new men’s record.

Our female runners also showed some muscle on the course, with only a couple of minutes between Jessie Parnwell and Naomi Christensen in the marathon, while Zoe Madden clocked 1.59.43 to take the half.

Of course, it’s not just about the winners and it was fantastic to see so many young fellas taking part, including mums and kids.

There were also so many greats feats of willpower and endurance on display such as Janene Rhodes who was determined to complete the marathon to mark her 60th birthday this year.

And how could you not be blown away by John Mergler, an over 60s runner who placed a very admirable 9th place in the marathon (4:19:32) after cycling to Rainbow Beach from Noosa – only to jump back on his bike after the marathon and cycle home. Amazing!

We mustn’t forget to mention the grit of seasoned ultrarunning mates Keiran O’Brien, Martin Hack, Mick Thwaites and Cam Munro who started their competition on the Friday, trying to out-drink each other at the Rainbow Beach Hotel.

Looking and feeling worse for wear, they all managed to toe the start line and clock some respectable times, with Martin Hack pipping the crew by just 1 second (not a bad effort for Keiran too after winning the inaugural BTU miler this month).

The half marathoners at the 2km mark. Picture: The Deck Studio

Plenty of the action was caught on camera this year by event photographer Greg from The Deck Studio who was stationed with his giant lense and drone on the sand blow. Pictures are available for purchase at

Results have been finalised and are available on our website

Just a reminder to runners about mandatory gear in events. We provide a full list on our comprehensive website and it is runners’ responsibility to ensure they comply with our few regulations.

As always there are so many people to thank:

*To the Raftery family, who founded this race, for bringing us to their home continuing to help at registration and checkpoints.

*The Gilbey family for their timing expertise – you do a fantastic job with the results Matt.

*Luke Eldo for his volunteering all day and compassion around the finish line.

*Rory Farrow, Simon Kluckow and Stacey for amazing sweeping skills.

*The Hills family for helping out and especially little Hayden.

*Sponsors & Partners: Thank you to The Running Company Sunshine Coast, Infinit Nutrition, Versus Socks, Knobby Underwear, The Recovery Room ( don't forget to use your free trial), Plantation Resort Rainbow Beach , SES Rainbow Beach.

*A special thanks to Versus Socks for podium prizes and The Running Company for spot prizes on the day.

If you had a blast at Rainbow, make sure to spread the word and share with your friends and family on social media.

You might also like to take part in our other races. The Blackall 50km & 100km is our premiere event of the year happening on October 19 and this year we have the amazing Dean Karnazes, ultrarunning legend, as our guest. This is one year you do not want to miss out on, so get you entries in now at

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