Runners return to the mountain

Coe Vines has run in every King Of the Mountain since 1996.

The town of Pomona comes alive for the King of the Mountain festival every July, however, this year is going to look different.

Both the Zinc 96.1 Prince and Princess Race and the Bendigo Bank International Mountain Challenge will be run on the same day.

There will be no market stalls, no additional entertainment and no school relays, but the mountain will captivate attendees like never before.

The essence of running up and down a mountain is pure and raw. There is nowhere to hide from the inevitable burn in the legs, the gasping for air and the struggle of finding some sort of running form to carry yourself back to the finish line immediately after the frantic descent.

With just the two races taking place, those who visit Pomona on the 25 July will experience the rawness of what started out as a pub bet long before there was even a designated track to the summit of Mt Cooroora.

This year is all about the runners tackling the mountain, witnessed by those who understand the purity of that challenge.

Running the Prince and Princess Race prior to the main race will give the nine- to 13-year-olds the opportunity to return to the finish line and cheer on the main race runners.

Long-time Pomona school teacher, Leslie Saunders, has been training the local runners in preparation for the race. The children scale the first section of the main race before turning right and heading along the tourist pathway, looping back to the base of the mountain, and then on to the finish line near the Lions Den.

The 3.4km race has been run in as fast as 16 minutes and 15 seconds, so if you plan on being there at the start, don’t wander off or you may miss the finish. There is truly something moving about watching youngsters giving it their all. Registration is online for the Prince and Princess event.                             

Those who run mountains will remember each and every mountain race they participate in.

Even many years later, the emotion-filled moments of victory, despair, struggle and sacrifice will rise above the usual challenges of day-to-day life.

With origins dating back over four decades, this mountain challenge has a deep history filled with stories of those who have been part of the journey.

In 2019, local film producer, Jacob Schiotz, spotted the beauty in all that the King of the Mountain festival offers. A few emails, phone calls and cinnamon donuts later, the decision was made that creating a documentary on the festival was a no-brainer.

The year 2020 was going to be the year the festival was captured in all of its flourishing glory; but Covid forced a rethink. With no festival last year, the stripped-back 2021 festival is now centre stage.

Runners on the day will stand on the shoulders of all those who have run before them and both races will be recorded, as not only a form of art, but as a time capsule of the rich history of this gruelling endeavour.

In the morning on race day there will be a Pomona True Value Hardware Bike Ride in the surrounding Pomona bushland.

Registration starts at 8am at the corner of Hospital and School streets in Pomona. This non-competitive ride caters to all skills and is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the trails on a Sunday morning.

The Prince and Princess Race is not accepting registrations on the day. All runners must have registered online by 23 July. The race begins at 1pm at the Lions Den opposite the top corner of Stan Topper Park.

The warm-up and introduction of the Bendigo Bank International Mountain Challenge runners begins at 2pm at the roundabout near the lower corner of Stan Topper Park.

The starting gun fires at 2:30pm and spectators can watch the runners surge towards the mountain. Come down, support the brave runners, and experience the race like never before. Even without the rides, stalls, and additional entertainments, you’ll still be guaranteed to feel the event’s buzz.

Cooroy Pomona Lions Club would like to thank funding partners: Noosa Council, Bendigo Bank Pomona, Pomona True Value Hardware, Zinc 96.1, Cooroy Rag and local businesses.

Pomona King Of The Mountain is a project of the Cooroy Pomona Lions Club.

The Pomona Antiques and Collectibles Fair, held in the Pomona Memorial Hall, runs over the Pomona King of the Mountain weekend from Saturday 24 July from 8am to 4pm and Sunday 25 July from 8am to 3pm.

A variety of antiques and collectables will be on sale from toys, tools, fine furniture, paintings, china, jewellery, books, linen, art deco, coins and military memorabilia.

Entry fee is $6 for adults and children accompanying an adult will be admitted free of charge. The fair will go ahead if COVID restrictions at the time allow.

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