New date for The Willo Marathon: 23 October 2022

The bushfire recovery activity at our venue at Wingello State Forest is still ongoing and access to the forest remains still too dangerous because of hazardous conditions. Therefore The Willo Marathon has to be postponed. The new date has been set for 23 October 2022.

Because of the devastating damage that the summer 2019-20 bushfires caused in Wingello State Forest, the 2020 and 2021 events were held in Canberra.

Over the past months, Forestry Corporation have been working to rehabilitate Forest Campground, and have engaged contractors to undertake safety logging of dead pines adjacent to forest roads, as well as to slash regrowth along fire trails and fire breaks. However, as the wet weather in November and December has delayed the completion of safety measures necessary before reopening of the forest, Wingello State Forest remains closed.

Photo: Highlands Trails

When we took on the role as the custodians of The Willo Marathon in 2019, the Rocky Trail team was well aware of the immense legacy that was bestowed up on us to carry on. This event has always been so much more than a race. In this spirit we trust that our racers and supporters will join the Rocky Trail crew to remain committed to bringing back the event to its home trails at Wingello State Forest this year. Please help us spread the word about the sheer super-human efforts by the local trail building crews and volunteers from Highlands Trails and heartfelt commitment by the Forestry Corporation team.

We know how much work the local club has put in and we thank them for their tremendous efforts over the past few months. We’d also like to commend the Forestry Corporation for remaining engaged, positive and supportive of mountain biking and racing – and The Willo – in Wingello.

On a mission to continue the Willo legacy

First held in 2011 at Wingello State Forest the Willo has become a celebration of mountain bike riding and racing in memory of the Southern Highlands “boy”, the late National 24 Hour Solo Champion James Williamson. James tragically passed away at the age of 26 overseas at a stage race in March 2010 from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

Over the past year the Highlands Trails group of passionate local mountain bikers has been working incredibly hard to reinstate the Wingello MTB trail network. Their representative said that it continued to be a huge challenge to re-build the trails and that it was a shame the event couldn’t go ahead on its original date in March.

We can’t wait to see riders back on the Wingello trails. Despite the inclement weather and associated delays, we’ve been working hard to clear and rebuild the trail network, and were looking forward to having at least half of the trails ready for the 2022 Willo Enduro next month. We welcome you all to come down over the next few months and help us make the trails even better for the rescheduled Willo Marathon in October.

David West, Highlands Trails

The local Forestry Corporation ranger said that the sheer magnitude of the bushfire recovery project had been putting immense pressure on the working groups and harvest contractors across NSW over the past two years. Over one third of the pine forest plantations in NSW like Wingello State Forest had been destroyed in the fires and the recovery of timber and removal of dangerous trees had been tough.

With so much ground to cover it has been hard to get enough harvest contractors and the biggest factor that has slowed down the timber recovery. Especially at Wingello there are still so many pine trees that are damaged and hazardous from the fires – many close to fire trails, which poses high danger as winds or bad weather can easily make the fall over.

Local Ranger, Forestry Corporation
Photo: Highlands Trails

The ranger added that access into the forest had been an issue too. Many major fire roads remain badly damaged from the wet weather last year. In some areas of the forest the ground hadn’t dried up enough to bring in big machinery to start reconstruction even. Although he much preferred wet weather, it had even made construction work to re-build facilities like the campground at Wingello difficult.

We want the forest to open too and truly commend the huge effort the local club has put in. It’s obvious how much the fires and floods have affected the local community as well. We welcome the mountain bikers and trail users in the forest and know how much of an asset it has been to the local community and to visitors alike. Clearing dangerous trees and getting the major fire roads up and running again as well as the campground are the priority now. We really are looking forward to it being open.

Local Ranger, Forestry Corporation

So do we at Rocky Trail Entertainment and we cannot wait to sound that whistle for the race start of the Willo Marathon on 23 October. It surely will be a special day.

Next steps:

All entries will automatically transferred to the new date. If you are already registered for the event, here are your options:

  1. If you CAN come: no need to do anything, you’re all set.
  2. If you purchased an event jersey: these merchandise item will be mailed out to you in any case.
  3. If you CANNOT come to the event we issue a refund. Please email to request a refund by 18 February 2022 (in 2 weeks) and we will arrange it for you.

Thank you for your support.

Do you have any questions?

Talk to us via our online chat – click on the orange circle symbol on your bottom right screen corner and we’ll be right with you! (We always love talking bikes, racing and riding!)