THE Great Volcanic Mountain Challenge course record will be under threat this year.
The eighth running of the event will be held on March 24 and some elite runners are expected to set a blistering pace.
Current record-holder and 2011 winner, Dural’s Robin Whiteley will be back this year looking to get his title back and possibly set a new record.
In 2011 Whiteley completed the 11 kilometre course, which includes 520 metres of climb, in 50 minutes and 36 seconds.
Last year, he was just outside his record time which allowed Pymble’s Ruairidh MacDonald to claim first place, with Whiteley finishing second.
The two ran close together the whole race but MacDonald had a little extra at the end when it counted.
MacDonald won’t be able to defend his title this year as he is injured but will attend the event as a spectator.
Organising committee chair Russell Tym says he has been advised of several other top Sydney runners who are likely to attend.
Newcastle’s Simon White has contested the challenge every year and finished in under an hour each time, so he’s expected to push the leaders.
If the elite runners are in good form the 50-minute barrier may be threatened.
This year’s challenge will once again incorporate the NSW Mountain Running Championships and many registrations have been received from Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle and Canberra as a result.
Over 400 runners and walkers are expected to participate in this year’s event.
The course starts at Pinnacle picnic ground and visits the peaks of Mt Towac and Young Man Canobolas before ascending to the finish on the summit of Mt Canobolas.
The National Parks Service has carried out substantial improvement work on the track up Mt Towac, widening it and adding steps.
This will make that section of the course safer and faster.
The event is open to walkers and runners and in previous years participants have ranged in age from six to 80 years.
Participants are bussed back to the assembly area from the finish.
This year’s event will raise money for the Scouts and Guides Central West to encourage young people to get involved in outdoor activities.
More information and entry forms are available at www.greatvolcanic.org or by phoning 0412 470 148.
Entries are taken online, can be posted in, or will be taken on the day between 7.30 and 8.30am at the assembly area.