THE annual W.R.A.T.S. organised Poolside Water World Great ocean Run from Red Rock to Coffs Jetty along the beaches, across the creeks and over the headlands looks set to produce a challenge to the run record.
Last year's winner Andrew Thompson has indicated that not only will he be back to defend his title but he will definitely be after the record bonus of $100 into the bargain.
Thompson ran strongly last year into a stiff southerly which he felt, with some justification, put the record of 3.18.15 held by Jim Bennington out of reach.
In 2004 there was the first tie since the event was first held in 1991 when Port Macquarie's Thompson and Ray Wareham from Sydney went stride for stride for the full 45 kilometres and could not be separated as they crossed under the Jetty at the finish.
That sort of pressure and favourable conditions should make the record attainable.
The pressure may well come from the record-holder himself for few can match him over the softer sand on Red Rock, Sapphire and Korora beaches.
Also likely to pose a serious threat is Matthew Bourke currently from Brisbane but formerly a Safety Beach local.
Bourke has several quick marathon (42.2 kms) times to his credit and should be familiar with much of the course.
Already entries are coming in from the 'regulars' like Tweed's Bob Beer, Tony Kean and Bob Jones while Peter Gardiner from the Gold Coast will have the number One as the first to sign up.
Apart from Bennington local interest will centre on the likes of John Walker from Sapphire, Tom Holbut from Toormina and Jenni Williams from Woolgoolga.
Entries for the run can be obtained by phoning Steel Beveridge on 6656 2735 a.h.
With a later start scheduled this year at 8am on Sunday, entries will be taken up to half an hour before the gun is fired at the northern end of Red rock beach but in the interests of the competitors it would be advisable to enter beforehand so that enough refreshments can be provided on the course and afterwards at Coffs Harbour Yacht Club.
Entries on the day will incur an extra $5 fee.