Olympic long distance runner Craig Mottram is once again partnering with the McDonald’s Townsville Running Festival to be an ambassador for the event.

The record-winning runner has been an ambassador for the event for the past 3 years and is excited to once again return to tropical North Queensland to promote running and healthy living to the region.

“My wife doesn’t understand why anyone runs, she thinks that anyone who runs is mad!” says Mr Mottram. “But there’s no better way to challenge yourself in regards to a goal. Lining up at the start of a marathon or a half marathon or a 10k or a 5k, whatever it may be, and seeing how you go.”

Mr Mottram also holds the Running Festival and the city of Townsville particularly close to his heart.

“I could give you the long winded story but in short I think it’s an awesome destination. With the Running Festival up here it’s one of the very few ones that is a community based event and it’s run locally by the Townsville running group,” he says.“They’re passionate about the community and they encourage the local families to get out and be a part of it.”

The Festival Partnership with McDonald’s for the Ronald McDonald House charity is something Mr Mottram is also deeply committed to.

“Most people at some point in their lives are touched by children’s hospitals where they’ll need a particular service. What Ronald McDonald offer, in regards to the care of families with kids, is outstanding.”

“People are quite happy to part with whatever the entry fee might be, because this festival gives back to something. And that’s the kick out of all of this, yes you get the experience but you’re also supporting something which is helping others and I think that’s really important.”

Mr Mottram made a trip up to Townsville over the Labor Day Weekend to begin preparations for the upcoming Running Festival. President of the Townsville Running Festival Committee Tony Gordon showed Mr Mottram around the city, sharing with him the best local running spots.

“The trails we went and explored today, like the strand, is great for your easy runs. And then you’ve got hills, like Castle Hill – don’t do it!” he laughs, “It’s a bit tough! No but it’s a good run in terms of the view out towards the water.”

“I’ve said it before, of the major events we’re lucky to host here in Australia, like the Commonwealth Games down on the Gold Coast, I couldn’t think of a better destination to prepare for them,” says Mr Mottram. “It’s really untapped, for me that’s what excites me the most about it. There is a lot of other festivals and running events that have flooded the market and spaces [down south], but up here there’s opportunity for it to grow in an environment which allows participation as well as elite performance. It covers everything.”

Mr Mottram will once again this year be competing in the 10k Classic along the strand, a race he says is perfect in every way.

“It’s fast, it’s a good course, it’s spectator friendly in terms of having the cafes and restaurants down here along the Strand,” he says. “There isn’t one element of the course that makes it slow. So if you’re looking for a flat, controlled run, which is what most elite runners want in a 10k, this would be one of the fastest course I’ve run on in Australia. And it starts early in the morning when it’s 18-19 degrees, it’s perfect.”

And as for the city itself?

“I came here for the first time three years ago and went over the Magnetic Island. It’s a 20 minute boat ride to an uncommercialised version of Hamilton Island… but better. The Strand is fantastic, there’s good night life if that’s what you’re into. From a destination point of view it’s great, the climate at this time of year from March/April through to August/September is awesome. It’s perfect.”

Describing the Running Festival is three words Mr Mottram said:

“Community based fun.”

The 2017 McDonald’s Townsville Running Festival will be held on Sunday, 6 August. For more information, and to register, go to www.townsvillerunningfestival.com