LAST year's inaugural Sunday Age City2Sea fun run through Melbourne was run in perfect conditions, with a field of 13,000 raising $500,000 for charity.
This year, the event is aiming to attract 18,000 runners. Compared with dozens of other fun runs in Australia and around the world, City2Sea is still small. But could it one day be considered one of the world's great running events, like its sister event in Sydney, City2Surf?
''Absolutely. I think it can,'' said Run For Your Life magazine's Heath Fitzpatrick. ''It helps that it's part of that City2Surf franchise. That's where it's going to become iconic, because it's going to become one of those races that you run because there's a number of them [in the one series] to do.''
Most of the world's biggest running events take years, even decades, to become truly popular. City2Surf, for example, started in 1971. The inaugural Bay-to-Breakers - Fitzpatrick cites the San Francisco run as one of his favourites - was in 1912.
''The two world events that stand out for me are the Bay-to-Breakers and the the [UK's] Great North Run,'' he said. ''These two runs have got such huge history, they started on the premise of running point to point, and they're about participation - that's the big thing.''
Fitzpatrick said that Sydney's City2Surf was Australia's pre-eminent, and largest, footrace. This year's event had more than 85,000 participants - up there with the world's biggest. Bay-to-Breakers, for example, attracts about 80,000 runners each year.
But in 1986, during the heyday of running, it attracted 110,000 participants - a world record for a fun run that stood until 2010, when the Philippines' A Run for the Pasig River attracted 116,000 runners. But participants in the Philippines event were spread across three runs - 10 kilometres, five kilometres and three kilometres - whereas Bay-to-Breakers is single 12-kilometre course.
Mr Fitzpatrick predicts that by 2030, City2Sea could rival its Sydney counterpart. Being part of a franchise will help, but the race still has to be interesting and the Melbourne course has a lot to offer.
Last year's winner, 24-year-old Steve Kelly, of Balwyn, described the course as ''awesome''.
''You did the loop around Albert Park and then finished in St Kilda - that was killer,'' he said. ''It's very well marketed. People are going to recognise it and say, I've seen City2Surf on TV, now this is our one. People are really going to get behind it.''
The course is also fast, said Kelly. ''It's dead flat and you're getting a little bit of wind because you're going along the beach, but I really enjoyed it.''
Other key ingredients of a great fun run, said Fitzpatrick, are crowd participation and an iconic course feature - like ''Heartbreak Hill'' of the City2Surf and the Boston Marathon. ''Part of the reason why City2Surf is so great is the amount of people that are out watching the course,'' he said.
''What can add to City2Sea becoming a great course is the people of Melbourne getting out on the course and creating something quirky.''
■ For more information on The Sunday Age City2Sea presented by Westpac visit thecity2sea.com.au