Mt Beauty Run History

Mount Beauty Marathon and Running festival – a potted history

It was in the late 1970s that ordinary folk discovered the joys of running and coined the phrase ‘Fun Run’.  Melbourne had its own marathon, the Big M, so why not Mount Beauty?

A group of keen local runners – Dennis Condon, Gerry Van Der Ploeg, Terry Corr, Peter Martin and Geoff Tunstall organized the first event in 1980 on an out and back course that crossed the river at Mongans Bridge and returned through seriously undulating terrain, uphill, to Mount Beauty. 

The 70 runners in that first event included the committee who left their paperwork behind when the gun went.   In what was then Australia’s toughest marathon, the field was dominated by cross country skiers. The first men’s winner was Danny Flynn 2:48 (with committee members Gerry and Terry filling the minor places). Jenny Van der Ploeg achieved the first of her three wins in 3:40. The half marathon event was won by John Waddington 1:14 and Cheryl Moffat 1:36.  The event grew from there with the original (or “Forrest Gump”) running boom, when the men’s fields far outnumbered the women’s.

In 1983 a quarter marathon was added with cross-country skiers Bob Flower and Deb Sutherland taking line honours.  From that time onwards the shorter events became an essential part of pre-season training for keen xc skiers, as well as attracting a contingent of orienteers and other runners from Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton districts.  By this time local policeman and S&R specialist Tony Retra had joined the committee.  During the 80s the committee members continued to run as well as organize, with Tony finishing second once or twice and Gerry never out of the top few.  It wasn’t until the tenth anniversary, and what we thought was the final full distance marathon that Gerry finally broke through to win the event in what was a grueling race of attrition.  There has only been one full distance marathon run since then, and it was to celebrate 25 years of the event.  The winners on this occasion were Trout Wayth of Bright and Irene Dunn, an Adelaide-based xc skier and biathlete!

About this time the original committee members had mostly moved on or were spending their energies raising the next generation of skiers, runners and mountain bike riders.  Tony (Guru) Mandile, Jim Crebbin and John Guerin stepped up as organisers in the nineties, before Bob took the reins and with various helpers including wife Jenny, Brian Keeble, Paul & Helen L’Huillier and Ian Franzke and kept the event going for another 15 years or so with distances of 21, 10 and 3km.  There was a bit of a lull in interest in running at about this time, but early in the new century a new running boom came with increased awareness of healthy lifestyles, and this time it was largely driven by women who now outnumbered the men on the starting lines!  By 2016 there were over 400 entrants in the three distances, and it was a real community event.  Sarah Gardner took the reins of the event around this time and organized new banners, logos and tee shirts to freshen up the event.

Covid, of course changed everything.  After a year off in 2020, a new committee including Ben Derrick and Sarah Maddison re-imagined the event as The Mount Beauty Running Festival and introduced a 14km Trail running course designed by Bob and Ian and taking in many of the favourite tracks of local runners.  This proved a great success, and it is wonderful to see the event still developing today.

If you would like to look up performances other than the very scant details above, please follow the links on the website to the results that we have been able to find.  If, like many of us, you are an ageing runner yourself, and have a copy of any of the missing results, we would love to hear from you at

Mount Beauty Marathon and Running festival
Mount Beauty Marathon and Running festival
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