News Release

Outback Dry Riverbed Race Meets the Mormons

Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t typically don gym shorts with their white shirts and ties, but when they do, they win races!

Several Mormon missionaries took part last Saturday (19th August) in the dry riverbed races known as the “Henley on Todd Regatta” in Alice Springs, taking the ‘Best Participation’ prize and winning first place in one key event.

The madcap races are the oldest annual event in the Northern Territory, organised for more than 50 years by the three Rotary International clubs in Alice Springs as a fundraiser and community event. One of this year’s beneficiaries was the local hospital, which will get a new X-ray machine. 

Contestants and supporters came from all the states of Australia and the Northern Territory, including a Navy contingent from Darwin.  Elder Scott Tennis saw the event as a great way to support the community and show locals there’s more to Mormon missionaries than suits and ties.

Crowds and organisers cheered on the missionary team, who won first prize after three heats in the 'Bring Your Own Boat' category. Their homemade ‘Meet the Mormons’ emblazoned boat, constructed from PVC piping and cloth, was held aloft by missionaries Elias Touma, Connor Hammond, Hendricks U-Fa and Landon Hartman as they ran across the loose-sand riverbed to victory. Also competing were female missionaries, Sister Lee-Lo and Sister Matthes.  Sister Lee-Lo won second place in the ‘Fill the Barrel with Sand’ shovelling event.

Elder Tennis said first prizes were not the goal. “We knew this would be a good way to raise awareness about the Church here in Alice Springs and also to let people know that wherever we are as missionaries, we are a part of the community and want to join in and make this kind of event successful,” said Elder Tennis.

Full-time missionaries for the Church serve voluntarily for 18 to 24 months. The Alice Springs missionaries enjoy stints as ‘bush elders’ when they take a simple ‘church in a box’ out to remote areas to hold worship meetings.   

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