Running might be a way of life for you but when family demands get in the way, it can be difficult to balance both your loves.

But what if there was a running festival the whole family could engage in – and friends too? A festival that not only challenges you physically but also provides a world of first class activities?

The annual Airlie Beach Running Festival is fast becoming one of the biggest family-friendly running events on the North Queensland calendar.

With five events, from a half-marathon to a 2km kids’ fun run, the event (July 16 & 17) really does have something for the whole family.

Just a one, two or three-hour direct flight from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne respectively, Airlie Beach is the mainland tourist town at the centre of the Whitsunday Region. It boasts dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as a good choice of shops.

Add to that on-water activities such as sailing, jet-skiing and snorkelling, and day trips to the islands and Great Barrier Reef, and it really is the running festival with the lot!

Oh, and did we mention the stunning island views and warm winter weather?

The festival has grown every year since it was established in 2013, with more than 600 competitors taking to the streets in 2015 on a picturesque course that winds through marinas and along beaches, with a backdrop of lush tropical vegetation and the Coral Sea.

Event organiser Wendy Downes said many women competitors came with family and friends and made a weekend – or a week – of it. There are even special running festival deals with local accommodation houses and tour operators for all registered participants.

“More than 60% of our competitors are women,” she said.

“Many of them travel in groups and teams and it’s wonderful to see them all getting into the spirit.  Bringing along the family too is great, so they can all participate together over the weekend.”

The half-marathon is part of the Athletics North Queensland half-marathon series and attracts fairly serious competition from the region with eight races. Last year, it was taken out by Steve Jackson with the female winner Ruth Roberts, both members of Whitsunday Running Club.

There’s a 10km run for those who want to take things a little easier and enjoy the views – or maybe you are in training for another event – while the 5km run is really just about having fun and experiencing an introduction to event running.

The 5km Team Challenge is proving really popular, with up to 10 team members allowed and only the results of the first three over the line counted. Team events are great for sports clubs, fitness groups, gyms and running clubs.

Last year, the inaugural 2km Kids Fun Run attracted about 200 primary school-aged children and is being brought back due to ‘popular demand’.

So grab the kids, grab hubby and make it a date with the Airlie Beach Running Festival on Saturday, July 16, and Sunday, July 17, 2016 – the whole family will benefit and it will be fun training together as well.

For more information and registrations visit www.whitsundayrunningclub.com.au