THE 2012 Great Ocean Road Marathon and Festival of Distance Running has attracted a record number of entries, with 4225 competitors to take part in the event.
Entries for the festival, held on the iconic road on May 19 and 20, have jumped 22 per cent compared to last year.
Marathon director John Craven said competitors would come from all Australian states and territories, plus 12 overseas countries — Malaysia, Singapore, China, United States, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Hong Kong and South Korea.
“It’s an incredibly satisfying result,” Craven said.
“When the marathon festival was founded in 2005, it was always the committee’s goal to reach the magical 4000 entries target.
“There were 1280 entries in the initial festival.”
He said the next barrier would be to break 5000 entries. “We have to continue to set goals for ourselves before we consider capping some of the events,” he said.
Craven said the marathon festival was fulfilling its purpose of creating a viable tourism event for the Geelong-Otway region in a previously-renowned quiet visitor period.
The most popular race on the six-event program is the half-marathon from Kennett River to Apollo Bay, which has attracted a remarkable 2128 entries — up more than 20 per cent.
The feature event, the 45.3km ultra-marathon from Lorne to Apollo Bay, has 909 contestants, a rise of 21 per cent. There are 796 entries in the 14km Apollo Bay to Paradise trek and 388 in the new six-kilometre Apollo Bay to Marengo run.
The entries are headed by the free-striding Kenyan James Kipkelwon, who set a course record in the marathon last year of two hours, 27 minutes 40 seconds. Kipkelwon, 32, hopes to slash three minutes off the record on May 20.
Australian marathon champion Kirsten Molloy, of New South Wales, will start favourite to win the women’s section of the marathon.
Brett McArthur, winner of the Wheelchair Athletes’ Challenge in 2008 and ’09, will return for another tilt at the 14km event. McArthur will use the race as part of his preparation for selection in the Australian team for the London Paralympics.
The sixth event on the festival program is the 1.5km Kids’ Gallop, to be staged at 11.30am on the Saturday. Entries for the Kids’ Gallop will be taken on the morning of the event in Apollo Bay.
All proceeds from the Kids’ Gallop will be donated to the Apollo Bay Hospital, in memory of the marathon’s founder, Les Noseda, who died last September.