The Challenge

Why cyclists tackle the Challenge

Every year, hundreds of cyclists from around Australia and overseas are drawn to the city of Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland to saddle up for the Cardiac Challenge.

And every year, the fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown gains momentum: 2023’s riders raised an average of $2100 per person – an incredible achievement for our riders. This event was launched in 2007 by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation which has raised more than $6 million for cardiac services in that time. The three-day, 333km ride attracts people from all walks of life: teenagers, new mums and retirees, cabinet makers, accountants, doctors, nurses, dentists, farmers, pharmacists, pilots, school principals, lawyers, bus drivers, police and builders.

What motivates them to pedal 333km, up mountains and across plains?

The man who came up with the idea for the Cardiac Challenge, Pete McNally, was born with congenital heart problems and still requires ongoing cardiac care. But he hasn’t let that slow him down.

A cycling enthusiast, he persuaded the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation that a fundraising bike ride would be a great way to raise money to improve cardiac care services in the Far North, as well as encourage more people to get into cycling. As the years have rolled by, the fundraising efforts of the Cardiac Challenge is probably best reflected by the number of cardiologists and nurses from the Cardiac Care Unit at Cairns Hospital who take part in the event, along with former cardiac patients and others who have lost loved ones to heart disease. At a personal level, many Cardiac Challenge participants describe the event as a “life-changing experience”: inspiring them to achieve new levels of fitness, step outside their comfort zone and take on fresh challenges, while also enjoying the camaraderie and support of the other riders.

Overseas and interstate participants also appreciate the opportunity to experience the dramatically varying terrain of Far North Queensland in a very “up close and personal” way: from the leafy, sun-dappled Kuranda Range road, winding upwards through lush rainforest to the Atherton Tableland, across rolling golden savannah lands and on to the shores of the sparkling Coral Sea at Cooktown.


September 14, Day 1: Cairns – Mt Carbine (127km)
September 15, Day 2: Mt Carbine – Lakeland (113km)
September 16, Day 3: Lakeland – Cooktown (79km)

September 17: Return home to Cairns.

Irrespective of your reason/s for taking part in the Cardiac Challenge, by the time you reach Cooktown you will be riding high!