THERE’S an outside chance this Sunday’s Mount Panorama Punish could crack the 1000 runner mark but one thing’s already certain – we’re getting a record field.
The third edition of the Punish has brought with it a big field of local and visiting runners all looking to conquer the mountain, including international visitors like Simon King.
King hails from Bathurst’s sister city Cirencester, in Gloucestershire, and he has previously ventured to the region as part of a formal friendship arrangement.
The chance to take on the Mount lured King back to Bathurst again.
While his trip didn’t get off to the finest start, contracting a bug on the flight over, King hopeful he will have a more memorable experience around the famous stretch of tarmac.
“I came back just for the Bathurst 1000 and for this,” he said.
“I missed the 1000 for medical reasons but I’m fit enough to run around. Whether I’m fit enough for a top time is another matter. Just to be there with all the other runners is great.”
The idea of a sister city relationship was first conceived in 2015 after Bathurst’s proclamation day celebrations were held.
The Earl and Countess of Bathurst, who call Cirencester home, were in attendance.
King helped strengthen the relationship with his visit last year and can’t speak highly enough of his previous trip.
“I came for 10 weeks and got involved in all sorts of things, and it began with Jenn at parkrun. It was great to land and get involved with a great community of people,” he said.
“I really wanted to embed myself in the community and get to know people and my network grew and grew to the point that I have more people following me on [fitness app] Strava than I do back in the UK.”
King adds to a big list of entries from outside of Bathurst.
Punish organiser Stephen Jackson said the non-local contingent growth is the most impressive aspect of this year’s event.
“It’s remarkable how it’s grown and taken off. Seventy five percent of entries have come from outside our postcode, which is remarkable,” he said.
“Mount Panorama is known around the world, especially in motor racing circles, and what we’re finding is more and more people are reaching out from that side saying ‘You have a running race around there?’ and we say ‘Certainly do, come and run it’.
“There’s the medals as well, which are great, but you’ve got to run it to get it.”
Fellow organiser Jenn Arnold said the four figure mark in entries isn’t completely out of the question.
“It’s a thrill to see that many people getting such enjoyment out of something we’re putting on for them. It’s exciting to see the same faces coming back to Bathurst,” she said.
“We have a couple of elite athletes coming from Sydney who have entered in the last few days. We also have a group from Sydney taking four private flights in, Rachel’s Runners.
“A lot of them are at the beginning of their running journey. Having an even bigger group of them coming up this year is fantastic.”
The race takes place at 8am this Sunday.