Julia Creek Dirt N Dust veterans return again this year

COMPARING NOTES: Dale Rackham (left) talks to fellow veteran Fred Schneider at the end of last year's Dirt N Dust. Photo: Derek Barry
COMPARING NOTES: Dale Rackham (left) talks to fellow veteran Fred Schneider at the end of last year's Dirt N Dust. Photo: Derek Barry

Julia Creek Dirt n Dust veteran and Mount Isa local Dale Rackham believes she might be the longest-running competitor in Australia’s toughest triathlon.

The 73-year-old is one of the oldest female competitors in the race, and has racked up an impressive 21 out of 23 races the Festival has been running.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Rackham is racing again this year in the South32 Julia Creek Triathlon and thinks she and friend Rosina Oliver may have gotten a leg up on ex-local hero Max Fegan for the record number of races run.

“Max, Rosina and I had all done the same amount, but then Max missed last year,” Rackham said.

But she does think the record has garnered any rivalry between the competitors.

“There’s no rivalry. Just - if there’s any kind of record, I think Rosina and I have got it,” she said.

“I love doing triathlons - I think Julia Creek is the most important of the year and it’s a really tough one but Mount Isa people are used to training in the heat, so there’s a little bit of an advantage there.”

Ms Rackham has no plans to stop competing the tough triathlon and is looking forward to travelling to Julia Creek for many years to come.

So what’s her secret?  

“I just enjoy doing it,” said Ms Rackham. “I get up early every morning to do my run or my swim or ride, that’s a routine for me. And I just really enjoy doing it - so why stop?”

Max Fegan, who missed out on competing in last years race to attend a friend’s wedding, will be competing in his 20th out of 23 races. He was there at the very first race and was on the committee that came up with the idea.

“It’s been a ritual we’ve done for the past few years with the kids - we get the chance to visit my mum who lives out near there and we all go up for the weekend to compete” Fegan said.

“I still like to be competitive, but now I’m getting close to 50 - I might have to just bite the bullet and finally race race in my age group.”

After 20 years Fegan is still going strong but admits there are still challenges after so many years of racing.

“I used to be hard on myself when racing, expecting to do a certain time or whatever - but now I’m happy to to finish it,” he said.