The Sunshine Coast Sister Cities Association today (Wednesday 16 November) announced the Sunshine Coast ambassadors for the all expenses paid, six-day Japan marathon trip of a lifetime.
And the two winning Coast locals – Grant Callaghan and Michelle Downs – are ready and raring to go.
Sunshine Coast Councillor Jenny McKay congratulated the winners and wished them the best of luck on the exciting adventure ahead.
“From a terrific number of quality applications, the Sunshine Coast Sister Cities Association selected these two standout marathon runners to represent the region in the Senshu International City Marathon in Japan next February,” she said.
“What a wonderful opportunity to fly the flag for the Sunshine Coast while experiencing authentic Japanese culture and to run in this famous international event.
“We are very thankful for this great opportunity offered from Sunshine Coast Sister Cities Association’s relationship with Izumisamo City, one of the host cities of this major running event.”
The successful Sunshine Coast representatives will travel free to Japan, staying three nights in a hotel and three nights in a Japanese homestay. They will run the Osaka-based Senshu Marathon on 19 February 2012.
Both of the winners are regular endurance sports participants and have met all the conditions laid down by the Senshu Marathon committee to qualify as marathon ambassadors for the Sunshine Coast.
Grant Callaghan – 40 years old – from Aroona is married with two daughters. He is a chartered accountant and partner with Accounting North based in Maroochydore and has a number of strong community links including tutoring or teaching at Sunshine Coast University, voluntary Surf Lifesaver with Caloundra Met SLSC and Treasurer of the Sunshine Coast Triathlon Club.
Mr Callaghan said he was looking forward to getting over to Japan to spread the word about the amazing and diverse place that is the Sunshine Coast.
“Having lived on the Coast for over 12 years and brought my two daughters up here, I am excited to have this opportunity to promote this incredible region and plan to really leverage social media tools while over there,” he said.
“As a business owner and local employer who works extensively with the local SME community, in Japan I also relish the opportunity to discuss our regional business economy and what we have on offer here.”
As a day job, 29 year old Michelle Downs works in Kawana managing programs to assist primary schools, community coaches and sporting clubs region-wide provide children with a positive introduction to sport. Residing in Sunrise Beach, Ms Downs also runs her own online sports consultancy and coaching business called ‘Get Set Up in Sport’ with her fiancée. She is also the Vice President of Noosa Triathlon Club and a patrolling member of Noosa Surf Lifesaving Club.
Ms Downs said she was very keen for this amazing opportunity, both from a sporting and cultural perspective.
“As I travel so much for work, I know the Sunshine Coast and all its different sub-areas like the back of my hand, I believe making me an ideal candidate to represent the region,” Ms Downs said.
“I am passionate about the benefits of our region, running and cultural experiences and love spreading the word to others.”
While both Mr Callaghan and Ms Downs are seasoned runners, visiting Japan will be a first.
Former participant, selection committee member and ultra marathon runner, Paul Ewing said he was very envious of the incredible excursion awaiting the winners.
“I had the opportunity to experience this incredible trip three years ago and cannot rate it highly enough,” he said.
“For six days you get treated like a rock star with your own chauffeur, interpreter and photographer.
“One piece of advice for Grant and Michelle is to enjoy the race but to embrace the culture.”