The start of last year’s Pomona King of the Mountain race, organisers are expecting a big field for 2012.
The start of last year’s Pomona King of the Mountain race, organisers are expecting a big field for 2012. Contributed

Runners gear up for grueling race

THOUSANDS of runners will descend on Pomona on July 22 for Australia's most grueling and historic mountain race, the annual Pomona King of the Mountain Festival.

The event, run by Cooroy Pomona Lions Club, is held every July and attracts fast-footed and extremely adventurous to Mount Cooroora.

This year's feature race, the International Mountain Challenge, a 4.5km race up Mount Cooroora and back, is supported by Bendigo Bank and Alexia Purcell said it attracted competitors from all over the world.

Purcell said this would be the 33rd time the King of the Mountain event had been held.

This year's run will see six-time consecutive winner of the challenge Neil Labinsky vie for the most consecutive wins in King of the Mountain history.

Labinsky also holds the record for the fastest time, having set an unbeaten 22.43 minutes in 2009.

High school competitors can also have a crack at the mountain this year thanks to the introduction of the Zinc 96.1FM Mountain Dash.

The Mountain Dash will challenge students with a 2.4km run from the main race starting point to the base of Cooroora Mountain and back.

Purcell said the Pomona King of the Mountain Festival was also home to Queensland's largest school relay event, the Nestle Primary School Relays.

The event also includes families with the CQU Family Fun Run.

The event also hosts the Guinness World Record-holding Cooroy Rag World Thong Throwing Competition, which promises a day of fun at the mountain.

The festival has a long histroy, with racers following in the footsteps of original runner Bruce Samuels who in 1958 said he ran to the top of the mountain in under an hour.

The claim sparked controversy at the Railway Hotel and spurred locals to challenge Samuels to prove his story.

On March 22, 1958, Samuels ran the mountain in 40 minutes and earned his place in local history.

The feat, written on the wall of the hotel, was challenged in 1959 by 21-year-old Brisbane man Barry Webb.

The challenge spread throughout town and in no time the run was arranged and Webb ran the mountain in 35 minutes.

Samuels was one of the first to shake Webb's hand after his run and the King of the Mountain event was born.

The Pomona King of the Mountain Festival is free and will include market stalls, food, entertainment, live music, rides and more.

The festival kicks off at 7am and ends at 5pm. For more information visit kingofthemountain.com.au

Gympie Times


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