The Willo | Nowra | 05.03.2023

Join us for the 12th Edition of The Willo in 2023 !

Are you ready to push your limits and tackle one of Australia’s iconic mountain biking marathon challenges?

For the first time, the Willo Mountain Bike Marathon will take you to the NSW South Coast in Nowra. This race offers multiply distances from 15km to 80km classifications on a giant circuit that combines all three mountain bike trail networks in Nowra:  Coondoo, Superbowl, and Butterfly trails in the Nowra and Currambene State Forests.

Not only that, but we also have a 15km junior race, perfect for the next generation of riders to test their skills.

Founded as a tribute to the late Australian National XCM Champion James Williamson, we are proud to continue his legacy through this event. Experience the thrill of tackling challenging terrain this popular mountain bike trail network, while taking in the beautiful scenery.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time rider, the Willo Mountain Bike Marathon is sure to be a ride you won’t forget. Sign up today and get ready to conquer the trails!

The Willo Marathon is supported by:


New Location in Nowra

Coondoo State Forest Mountain Bike Park, Nowra

The plan was to return to Wingello in 2023 after fires and floods but the forest is still closed and no firm opening date in sight. We will therefore relocate the event to the Coondoo State Forest near Nowra.

The trails which are looked after by the SCUM club have a long history of races with Rocky Trail and a mix of singletrail and more open fireroad will make a great race loop for the Willo.

New Race Distances & Format

This is a marathon race unlike any other. 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.

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

Additional Classifications

KOM and QOM reward
eBikes welcome
Singlespeeders, come!
Fun race for small kids.

For many young athletes this race will continue to provide the opportunity to experience their first thrill of racing. A special junior short-cource race introduces the pinners to racing accompanied by experienced mountain bikers.

Get ready!

Race Format

How the race works and volunteer opportunities


Overview of adult and junior entry fees and categories

Map & Venue

Race track map, event services and venue information

All Rocky Trail events are Ecotourism Australia Certified in the Nature Tourism category.

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Photos from 2020

James ‘Willo’ Williamson

James was 26 years old and will always be remembered as a top-level XCO and XCM rider. He was passionate about the sport in every way, as well as being an Australian and World 24 hour champion. Founded by Meg Patey, Willo’s aunt and supported by his best friends and riding mates, the Willo race is now managed by Rocky Trail Entertainment under Meg’s patronage.


James was born on June 1st 1983. He lived in the Southern Highlands and attended St Paul’s School, Moss Vale, and Chevalier College. As a child, James spent many hours on bikes. His life was transformed when, at the age of 17, he completed a three-week bike ride with his uncle, from Adelaide to Berrima. James loved it. On his return, he joined the local bike club, and never looked back. James excelled in mountain biking and regularly competed in many races held all over Australia.

James won the Sydney Solo 12 Hour race in 2002 at just 19 years of age. James went on to win many eight and twelve-hour races, before attempting his first solo 24 hour Race in 2005. One year later, he became the 2006 Australian Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Champion. In 2008 he took out the World Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championship in Canada. He was 24 years old.

Editorial career
After leaving school, James completed a Degree in Communication and Public Relations at Canberra University. He wrote extensively about the events and the people involved in the sport and in 2007 James became editor of Enduro magazine. Enduro magazine is published five times each year, and covers all aspects of mountain biking with a focus on endurance riding. The editorship role enabled James to communicate his love of mountain biking to a wider audience. His editorials were particularly memorable as they effortlessly captured the spirit of mountain biking in a profound and unforgettable way.

March 2010
In 2010 James realized his dream to race the Cape Epic, a seven-stage mountain bike race in South Africa. He completed Stages 1 and 2 with his friend and riding partner Shaun Lewis. Early in the morning of 23 March 2010, before the start of stage 3, James died in his sleep (from an previously un-diagnosed heart condition).

The legacy
James Williamson will be remembered for the huge impact he had on the mountain bike world, both on and off the bike, in such a short period of time. His enthusiasm and passion or the sport, and his engaging personality endeared him to many. Although he was a world champion, he never let this alter his love and enjoyment for riding, and his continual encouragement for all riders, at all levels. With the Willo Marathon the Rocky Trail Team together with friends and family of James aims to support this spirit of encouragement and passion for mountain biking, in everything that we do.

Stromlo Forest Park Totem
Did you know that a totem has been erected at Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra in memory of James? The totem was opened by the ACT Government Minister for Sport in October 2010, and is the first totem to commemorate a mountain bike rider at Mt Stromlo. It stands as a permanent dedication to James and marks the start of a new trail at Stromlo Forest Park called the “Willo Link” – named after James Williamson. Thanks to Anton Scott-Cameron (Swell Designs) whose tireless energy and direction was responsible for bringing the Willo Trail and the Totem to Stromlo Forest Park as a permanent tribute to James.

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!)