Great Volcanic Challenge to host 2016 Australian Masters Mountain Running Championships

PRESS RELEASE 18TH January 2016


Great Volcanic Challenge to host 2016 Australian Masters Mountain Running Championships


The Australian Mountain Running Association (AMRA) has announced that its 2016 Australian Masters Championships will be run as part of the Great Volcanic Mountain Challenge. The eleventh Great Volcanic will be run on Sunday 20th March 2016 at Mt Canobolas near Orange in Central West NSW. The Great Volcanic has been host to the NSW Mountain Running Championships for the last three years and will be again in 2016.


“The appointment to host the Australian Mountain Running Masters Championships as well as the NSW event is a great honour for the Great Volcanic organising committee” said Chairman Don Martin. In the past the Australian Championships have been run as a single event but this year they will be conducted in two parts. The Open and Junior Championships will be run on 15th May in the ACT, while the Masters Championship will be run at Orange on 20th March.


The Masters Championships will be open to all competitors aged 35 or more on race day. Champion and placegetter medals will be awarded in each class, male and female, in five year age brackets from age 35 up to 70 plus. Don Martin advises that special arrangements have been made with AMRA so that no additional entry fee will be payable to compete in the national Championships. All participants eligible by age will automatically be included in the Australian Masters Championships. 


Those who perform well in the Masters will be encouraged to represent Australia at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Susa, Italy on 27th August 2016. That course will be quite similar to the Great Volcanic course, 11 kilometres in length with a similar climb component.


Great Volcanic Event

The Great Volcanic is an 11 kilometre, three peaks race. It traverses Forestry roads and National Parks walking tracks to the peaks of Mt Towac and Young Man Canobolas before finishing on the summit of Mt Canobolas. Runners enjoy spectacular views along the way and pass through snow gum forest in the higher sections. There is 520 metres of climb, but there are some downhill sections too. 


From just 180 runners in its first year the Great Volcanic Mountain Challenge has grown to 630 entrants last year. With the word spreading about its unique appeal as a great trail run the numbers are expected to continue to grow towards 1,000. Don Martin emphasized that people do not have to be elite runners to participate in the Great Volcanic. While it is competitive for top class runners it is also a family and friends event for casual joggers and walkers. Everyone is welcome.


Past Winners

Former Olympic Games marathon runner and Australian mountain running champion Martin Dent, the 2015 Men’s winner, holds the current course record for the Great Volcanic. The initial Men’s Open winner was Peter Hodges (Bathurst) in 56’ 21” in 2006. In 2007 Tom Gleeson (Orange) ran 52’ 20” and in 2008 Neil Labinski (Nambour) 50’ 47”. In 2011 that record was lowered by Robin Whiteley (Dural) to 50’ 36” before Matthew Cox (Moorebank) smashed that in 2013 with a remarkable 47’40”. Matthew returned in 2014 and bettered his previous time, but it wasn’t enough. Thomas do Canto (Waterloo, Sydney) lowered the record to 46’ 20”. Martin Dent cut that further last year to just 44’ 59”.


Remarkably the Women’s Open record has stood since 2009. Melanie McDonald (Sydney) was the first woman to run under an hour setting the initial mark in 2006 at 59’20”. Veronica Wallington (Canowindra), an individual bronze medallist and team gold medallist at the World Junior Mountain Running Championships, then posted three consecutive wins, cutting the record to just 54’ 09” in 2009. That mark still stands and current Australian mountain running champion Audrey Amiya Hall, the 2015 Great Volcanic female champion, will be out to break the 54 minute barrier in 2016..


Only two runners in the history of the race have beaten their age, a serious challenge for the senior runners. Brian Kennelly of Orange was the first to do it running 57’ 40” at age 59. Last year 62 year old Dennis Wylie of Haberfield ran exactly 61 minutes. Willie Thomas of Caringbah holds the record as the oldest runner to complete the course at age 81.


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