ON YOUR MARKS…. Do you have what it takes to take on a paddle steamer? That’s the question that will be asked of Sunraysia residents as part of a first-of-its-kind fund-raising and awareness event being held next month in support of Chances for Children. Avid runner Lila Rouse, 16, will be among the hundreds of participants expected to turn out for the event, which will see people take on the iconic PS Melbourne. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By VINNIE RODI

HAVE you ever wondered if a human could outrun a paddle steamer?

It’s a question that is going to be answered on Sunday, November 10, as part of a first-of-its-kind fund-raiser and awareness campaign for local charity Chances for Children.

Dubbed the ‘Chase the Steam’ event, local residents will have the chance to race the iconic PS Melbourne from the Mildura Wharf to the Gol Gol Hotel.

While the PS Melbourne will, obviously, make the trip by water, runners will travel by foot, racing along Mildura’s riverfront and over the George Chaffey Bridge.

Participants will have the chance to compete across distances of 7.3km and 4.3km depending on fitness levels, with the event open to all-comers, including young and old, male and female and families.

You can choose to run or walk, with the main aim to raise awareness about the work and opportunities granted by Chances for Children, which aims to help local children reach their full potential through educational and other opportunities.

Those not interested in running can choose to support the PS Melbourne’s efforts to beat the crowd, with VIP packages available on board the vessel.

As Mallee Family Care’s communication and marketing co-ordinator, Kirsten Lloyd, and Chances fund-raising committee member Greg Leslie put it – it’s a race that’s all in the name of a good cause!

“Ultimately our aim through this event is to create some awareness around Chances, and raise some cash to go towards the great work Chances does,” Greg said. “It’s also about having fun, getting out in the open air, and the novelty of challenging yourself against a paddle steamer.

“We’re setting the challenge up realistically, and people will set off in waves and be allowed to take part at a pace that they are comfortable with.

“The event itself has been modelled on the great train race in Melbourne, where people could take on Puffing Billy up the hills in Belgrave.

“Chances have held similar events in the past, including the Tour de Murray, which has proven popular.”

Greg said that while the race would see if anyone can beat the PS Melbourne, the emphasis was on fun more than competition.

“Regardless of who reaches the finish line first, all participants will get together for breakfast, and build some awareness for Chances,” he said.

Greg said the idea had come following a brainstorming meeting with Chances fund-raising committee members, with the aim to create a standout, annual fund-raising and awareness event.

“This idea came up, and people just jumped on board,” he said. “It features the iconic Murray River, the iconic PS Melbourne, and encompasses both sides of the border, which Chances over the journey has been able to serve,” he said.  

For those unfamiliar, Chances for Children is a Mallee Family Care program which aims to support young Mallee residents to complete their secondary schooling, and pursue tertiary education.

“Education and training is the key, and there are a lot of children in our region who don’t have the access others do,” Kirsten explained.

“Chase the Steam is so important because it’s an inclusive event, which is so critical to everything that Chances and Mallee Family Care stands for.

“I think it’s fabulous that this event allows everyone to join in… and the potential for this event to grow and become an iconic event on our calendar is huge.”

For more information about the Chase the Steam event contact Mallee Family Care on 5023 5966, email chances4children@malleefamilycare.com.au or visit https://www.trybooking.com/BDQPI to register for the event.