Rider Briefing | The Willo 2023 | Nowra NSW

Welcome to The Willo 2023. Let us tell you a little bit about this special race.

The event is named after James ‘Willo’ Williamson who was an inspiration to follow as a rider. The Willo Marathon has been run in his memory since he so tragically passed away from a heart condition while racing in South Africa over ten years ago now. Willo will always be remembered as the champion mountain biker from the Southern Highlands that he was. Every race participant will be instantly taken by the relaxed and friendly nature of the race, which in fact does reflect on James and the camaraderie that mountain biking brings for all.

We’re so pleased to have you at the start line at The Willo Marthon 2023! You’ll be racing alongside some of James’ closest friends and family members too, including the event’s Founder and Patron, Meg Patey, his aunt. #rideonwillo


Race Update 4 March 2023, 8am

The Event Director and Race Director provided this final race update – please scroll down for the video briefing and full written briefing.

Race Track

  • Kids Race
    • The Kids 15km circuit has been shortened. All racers will now complete 3 laps of a 5km loop. This will allow for parents and supporters to cheer the racers as they fly through the event hub.
  • Main race course updates
    • The race start will be on a start loop will be about 2km long.
    • Please be mindful that there are two remaining wet sections from recent rain:
      • at approx. 7km there is a very wet section where riders may need to dismount. The left side provides a dry-ish path to walk.
      • at approximately 8.5 km another very wet section can be bypassed to the left. Follow the arrows.
    • Remember, compulsory dismount when crossing Forest Rd at approx. 9km
    • KOM starts at approx. 18.8km and finishes at approx. 19.9km. Total climb is 36m. Note, 80km riders will pass 3 times. 60km riders 2 times and 40km riders once.
    • Neutral Feed and Tech zone as well as bottle drop is at 26.2km.
    • Remember, compulsory dismount when crossing back across Forest Rd.
    • The 15km adult race will still complete the full loop on the Coondoo track side.
    • GPX file – download click here
  • Merchandise
    • Limited edition Willo jersey, some sizes still left – be fast
    • Rocky Trail jerseys
    • T-shirts, Hoodies, Hats, Socks
  • Arrival
    • We suggest arriving a minimum of 1 hour prior to racing. It will be busy and you may have to park away from the Event Hub so allow plenty of time for a relaxing chilled start to the day.
  • Waste – Reduce and Recycle
    • Rocky Trail is committed to managing land waste for all of our events better. We ask all campers and event patrons to use the appropriate bins and/or if possible take your rubbish home with them, where it can be recycled appropriately. Ask for rubbish bags at rego. Every little bit helps.


This is your Rider Briefing for the event – check out the Virtual Rider Briefing from our Events Team and scroll down for important race-specific info. You will find links to all the important details and if you have any questions, always email us at ride@rockytrailentertainment.com (or click on the messaging button on your screen) and always happy to chat at rego too!

Meet Bec Henderson

Update: As earlier announced, unfortunately, Bec will not be able to be at the start line at the Willo to launch the new “Bec Henderson Rocky Trailblazer Award”. Bec contacted us on Friday that she won’t be able to participate due to health reasons. We look forward to sharing some more information about the award with you all.

In summary, Rocky Trail wants to recognize Bec’s enormous achievements and in 2023 find the next round of female athletes that will change the sport. Bec will support us to encourage female participation across our cross-country events and help foster the grassroots growth of the sport. As part of the Trailblazer Award, Rocky Trail will recognise:

  • Bec Henderson Award – for Most Impressive Overall Female Rider (main award)
  • Bec Henderson Rising Star Award – for Most Improved Rider (male and female)

The Junior Trailblazer Award will be under the Patronage of Zoe Cuthbert. More info to follow.

Important race info

About the venue

Coondoo State Forest Mountain Bike Park, Nowra (Click HERE for directions.)

The trails which are looked after by the SCUM club – a huge THANK YOU to Scum for the amazing support!

The Willo has traditionally been a single 25km lap however our new venue in Nowra gives us the opportunity to create a “mega lap” of 40km plus a shorter 15km “taster” lap, perfect for the next generation of riders to test their skills. For more venue info, visit the LOCATION information page.

Getting to the venue
A short 15min drive from Nowra along the Princes Highway, turn into Forest Road before making a right onto Western Road which is a short gravel road into the Event Hub area. Parking will be located on the western side of the event hub on a private property. Please follow the signs and parking marshalls.

Race Classifications

The 2023 Willo Marathon has 3 race distances on offer plus a seperate 15 km adult and junior Willo shortcourse race:

  • 40km – Outbound leg + 1 lap of Marathon Loop + Return Leg
  • 60km – Outbound leg + 2 laps of Marathon Loop + Return Leg
  • 80km – Outbound leg + 3 laps of Marathon Loop + Return Leg
  • 15km – Willo Adult Shortcourse
  • 15km – Willo Junior

Race Schedule & Start Procedure

    • Each category will be started in a dedicated wave as per the schedule here.
    • Riders will be asked to self seed with priority given to current race winners and elite riders.
    • Your result is based on the Gun start. Riders starting in the wrong event wave will be marked as DNF.
    • Riders will start on a short start loop consisting of approximately 1.4km undulating fire road before the first single track. The start loop will bring the riders back through the event hub.
    • The course will be open for practice on Saturday between 2pm & 6pm and on Sunday from 6.30am – 7.30am.
    • Full race services, including First Aid, will be provided from 8.00am until 4.00pm Sunday. Limited services will be provided during notified practice periods.
    • If you feel unable to complete the race, notify a marshall, follow the green signs back to the forest camp, and then make you way to the Event Centre. You must notify that you have withdrawn to timing. Make sure you notify timing officials when you return to the Event Centre.

Race Track

This epic lap takes riders through everything the Coondoo Forest network has to offer, including the Coondoo, Superbowl, and Butterfly trail networks.

The full marathon lap is broken up into three key sections, 

  1. The Outbound Leg,
  2. The Marathon Loop and
  3. The Return Leg.
  • Riders will start on a short start loop consisting of approximately 1.4km undulating fire road. The start loop will bring the riders back through the event hub before heading into approximately 9km of single track and fire road.
  • Riders turn right at the Charcoal Road Marshal Point (15km riders continue straight) and head to the neutral service area located at the start of the Superbowl trail network and the start of the “Marathon Lap”.
  • All riders must dismount the road crossing at Forest Road.
  • From the neutral service area all riders head out on the 20km Eastern Loop and complete their set number of laps (40km 1 lap, 60km 2 laps, 80km 3 laps).
  • There will be an intermediate timing point and marshal station at the start of the single track on the eastern side of the road that will count laps.
  • Riders will pass through the neutral service area on each lap and have the opportunity to refill water bottles and take on snacks if required. Neutral technical support is available in case of mechanicals. NO OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE IS ALLOWED.
  • Once riders have completed their set number of laps of the Eastern loop (40km 1 lap, 60km 2 laps, 80km 3 laps), riders retrace via the road crossing to the Charcoal Road marshal point, turning right to follow a mix of single track and fire road to the event center and finish line.
  • Riders only complete this section of the course at the end of their race.
  • Our short lap heads out on the same course as the main marathon loop. At the Charcoal Road marshal point riders continue straight on (full distance riders turn right) to return back along a mix of single track and fire road to the event village and finish line.
  • Riders having completed the full marathon course will return along the same route at the end of their race.
  • Marshalls will be stationed at the junction to provide assistance or direct riders accordingly.
  • *A short start lap may be utilised for the 15km race if rider numbers dictate

The WILLO supports junior riders so it makes sense to provide a special Junior Race!

  • We love when the young shredders line up at our start lines, so we are continuing the Willo tradition of the Junior Race. This classification offers a 5KM x3 junior short-course on the Coondoo trails for U15 and U13 racers.
  • The race is made up of one 5KM short-course, to be completed 3 times. The Junior Race will NOT cross Forest Road. A marshal point will be placed on the short-course diversion for them; juniors will race in Coondoo only (look out for “short-course diversion” in the map).

This is meant to be a fun activity where “everyone’s a winner”! It is for 3 – 11 year olds who can race at the Event Centre on a small section of single track at the back of Registration. There are two categories for this race.

Race Logistics

  • The neutral service area is located at the start/end of the Coondoo Eastern Loop on Butterfly Road and will be staffed by event marshals and our neutral service mechanic.
  • Rider support staff / general public are not permitted at this location.
  • Rider Support Includes:
    • Intermediate timing point
    • Water filling and Skratch hydration station
    • Neutral mechanical support by FIZO Bikes
    • Basic snacks will be on offer
    • A bottle/snack drop will be available for riders in the 60km & 80km distances (2 & 3 laps).
    • All items must be clearly named and dropped into the tubs at registration prior to 9.15am.
  • It is highly recommended that all riders carry key bike spares including innertube, tire levers, pump/co2, chain quick link and multi tool. Riders can assist other riders with repairs, non-rider outside assistance other than by our neutral support crew is not permitted anywhere on the course.
  • REQUESTING ASSISTANCE – It is recommended that all riders carry a mobile phone with them at all times in case of an emergency. The race director’s contact details can be found on your race plate.
  • eBIKES – Are welcome for 40km and 60km distance but must be unmodified and comply with current Australian standards. Read more about our eBike policy here…

Event Services

FOODKings Porker BBQ & Catering will be onsite serving the best food in the region. Please support the businesses that support our events. (Click on image to enlarge)

  • WATER– Riders must bring sufficient water to sustain themselves and their support crew throughout the event. There will be a limited supply of Water available at the Event Centre.
  • COFFEE – Jade Coffee Hut will be ready and waiting to serve your hot drink on arrival.
  • MEDICAL– We will have a dedicated First aid crew on-site and race marshals roaming out on track.
  • FACILITIES– Portable toilets will be serviced regularly.
  • MECHANICAL SUPPORTFIZO Cycles will be on site at the race village prior to race start to support you with any pre-race issues. They will then relocate to the neutral service area for the duration of the event.
  • PARKING– Please follow the directions of event staff upon arrival.
  • DOGS– must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • CAMPING– Camping is allowed at the event center. Plenty of parking even for caravans and trailers


At Rocky Trail Events you don’t need a racing license. You are responsible for your own cover. This year, Rocky Trail is proud to announce a partnership with Flip Insurance heading into the 2023 Season for all cross-country and Superflow® events. Flip is pay-as-you-go accidental injury insurance that offers cover for a day, or a week. Find out more…

Weather Info

Nice early autumn weather expected with temperatures in the high 20’s.


We are still looking for volunteers for this weekend – race one day, help out on the other? Parents/supporters welcome too! We offer a free entry to you or for a friend/child to a future Shimano GP or Fox Superflow® event in return for every event day you help out at. Click here to fill out an online form and our team will be in touch! Cheers!

Rocky Trail Pace Points

This event is part of Rocky Trail’s cross-country racing line-up of events and in 2023 we are implementing our “Pace Points System”. Competitors will be able to accumulate points across all Rocky Trail cross-country events, including our marathon and ultra-endurance events. A pace-based algorithm developed by Rocky Trail will produce an innovative ranking output and you may just score big with Pace Points! You’ll be able not only to reach your goals but to earn Rocky Trail Rewards too!

We can wait to see you smashing it! – Remember, your race photos are included in your entry, be sure to download them after the race and share your stories using:



Emergency contacts:

Event Manager & Media Liaison – Jo Parker 0424 955 332
Race Director – Bob Morris 0458 299 558
Event Manager – Martin Wisata 0403 090 952

Now, get ready!

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!)

See. You. Soon.