By sam darroch
LEGENDARY Gippsland marathon man Geoff Watt will be commemorated on Sunday when the 42nd Geoff Watt memorial half marathon and fun run/walk takes place.
The event was resurrected last year by Watt’s daughter Kathy, an Olympic cycling gold medallist, and is the longest running fun run in Gippsland.
With half marathon, 10 kilometre, 5km and a 2.5km courses on offer, runners of all abilities are catered for.
“We’re trying to make it a real community day… you don’t have to be an elite runner,” Kathy said.
However serious runners will be tested by the half marathon which serves as an ideal warm-up for the Melbourne Marathon, according to Morwell’s Nick Schilling, who placed third in the feature event last year and recently won the Shepparton Marathon.
“It’s actually quite a demanding course; it’s got a few hills in it,” Schilling said.
“It was a big field and there were some fairly high level runners (last year).
“It’s blossomed a bit, the event has grown (since it returned in 2011) since Kathy got behind it being an icon herself.”
About 250 people turned out for last year’s event in memory of Geoff.
A keen marathon and ultramarathon runner, Watt established the Warragul Athletics Club and was one of the first elite runners in Australia.
A good friend of Herb Elliot’s coach Percy Cerutty, the “bearded galloper from down under” travelled by boat to compete in the Boston marathon in 1959 as part of his comprehensive journey in marathon running.
Watt died from exposure during a training run on Mount Erica but the event lives on as a tribute to his contribution to the sport.
This year’s run will also raise funds for the lions club and children’s groups through the Ulysses Club.
The run starts at the Geoff Watt Athletics Track in Warragul from 8am. For more information or to register visit www.geoffwattrun.com.au