ABOUT 150 people will gather at the bottom of Cambewarra Mountain this Sunday with one goal in mind - to be crowned mountain royalty.
This year the Shoalhaven King of the Mountain will turn 40 and the competition is expected to be as fierce as ever.
About 30 Shoalhaven runners will take up the challenge, with King regular Damian Smith expected to enter again after finishing eighth last year.
It will be mate against mate with Nowra Athletics Club regular Leith Babian expected to push Smith to the limits.
Smith beat Babian last year despite his friend getting an early lead.
However Babian has been training hard and trumped Smith by about 45 seconds at the country classic 12 kilometre race two weeks ago at Willandra.
Nowra Athletics Club president Peter Dooley said he expects there will be a few locals challenging Smith on Sunday.
“It’s pretty popular with locals. It’s a challenging run and you really need to be a long distance runner to compete. We have a group of mature men running who love it and back up year in,” said.
Runners will travel from Cambewarra Village via a series of bitumen and gravel roads to Kangaroo Valley.
The highest point of the race is Mount Scanzi, 24 kilometres from the start and 360 metres above sea level.
Competitors have to push through the pain on this gruelling mountain before a steep descent and then on through the valley to Kangaroo Valley Showground.
Dooley described the run as challenging and unique.
He said the significant hills and the fact it sits between a half and full marathon is a drawcard.
“It’s not a run other people come across on the calendar and we have run it for a long time,” he said.
“Because of the terrain it is fairly demanding and you have to grind it out.
“But some people just want to get through it.”
Dooley encouraged people to come and watch the runners take off at 9am in Canbewarra.
Although he discouraged people following the competitors in their cars, he said the last 500 metre stretch on Kangaroo Valley Road was also a good place to cheer on runners as they reach the finish line.
“It will be an interesting race. The weather is looking good for it so it is shaping up to be a great day,” Dooley said.
To mark the 40th anniversary, there will be a historical display at the start of the race that will be taken to the finish line.
The Kangaroo Valley Tourism Association is also providing a prize if the fastest time, just over one hour and 51 minutes, can be beaten.