Australian Rio 2016 Olympics track finalist turns to the Great Volcanic Challenge

ROAD AND TRACK: Australian Olympic 10,000 metre runner Ben St Lawrence will tackle the Great Volcanic Mountain Challenge on Sunday. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
ROAD AND TRACK: Australian Olympic 10,000 metre runner Ben St Lawrence will tackle the Great Volcanic Mountain Challenge on Sunday. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Australian track star Ben St Lawrence will head the field for this weekend’s 12th annual Great Volcanic Mountain Challenge.

St Lawrence qualified for the 10,000m final at last year’s Rio Olympics.

He said he would use the 11km run over three mountain peaks  to help re-build his fitness.

“I haven’t race much since Rio, but I have plans to step up to the marathon later this year,” he said.

“So this will be a great event as I climb back to peak fitness.”

Sunday’s event is also the NSW Mountain Running Championships.

The best will qualify to run in the Australian Championships in Adelaide and ultimately the World Championships in Italy later this year.

Race Director Russell Tym said the event attracted 500 starters last year and they were hoping for more this year.

While many entrants are from Orange and the Central West he said it also attracted competitors from Sydney and Canberra keen to tackle the unique course.

The event is both a competitive race and a fun run, or walk, taking in beautiful views for athletes and keen walkers including family groups.

He said the 11km trail takes in three volcanic peaks.

It starts near the Towac Pinnacle picnic grounds, off Pinnacle Road.

Entrants will first climb Mt Towac before ascending Young Man Canobolas.

The final climb is up to the top of Mt Canobolas.

“While the course includes a lot of ascent, (the climb is 520m) only a couple of sections are steep.

“People can run or walk.

“While the top runners can do it under an hour most participants take one and a half to two and a half hours.”

Last year Reuben Caley won the event, completing the distance in 49 minutes and five seconds.

However, the fastest time ever set was the year before when Martin Dent climbed the three peaks in 44 minutes and 59 seconds.

In 2016 Victoria Mitchell not only won the women’s open section she also set a new record time of 51 minutes and 10 seconds.

It was three minutes better than any previous woman’s run.

Greater Bank Orange branch manager Deb Linneman said it was one of 17 Athletics NSW RunNSW community fun runs it supported.

“It is open to runners and walkers, young and old, individuals, families and teams,” she said.

Early bird entries cost $35 for adults and $25 for children and they close on Wednesday.

Individual entries will be accepted up to the day of the event.