How It All Started
It was in 1958 when Bruce Samuels, a local footballer and railway porter ran to the top of the (438m) Mount Cooroora. He later casually announced, in the bar of the Railway Hotel, which used to be in Pomona, that he had done it in under an hour.
His claims brought doubt and scoffs from the idling drinkers who needled Samuels into declaring that he was prepared to do it again, under supervision. The race was arranged, a good few side bets placed, and Samuels, after no special preparation, set out on March 22nd 1958 to prove he could do it "inside the hour".
To the amazement of most, Samuels returned with twenty minutes of his hour to spare to collect his hundred pound wager. He became the town hero and was nicknamed "Hilary" Samuels.
The feat was recorded on the wall of the hotel bar and it was there in 1959 that Barry Webb, a 21-year-old Brisbane man, decided to take up the challenge. Barry was no speedster but knew that he had stamina and was in good condition. He declared that he could beat Samuels ' time and a race was set for the following Saturday.
There was little publicity, no fanfare, but as it is the way in small communities, everyone knew it was on and the street in front of the hotel, just before 2.30 pm, resembled a city rush hour. Webb, ruddy faced and hot, but showing surprisingly little distress, delivered the sealed envelope that he had collected on the mountaintop to the door of the hotel as the stopwatch recorded 35 minutes. To the cheers and backslaps of the crowd he received about 25 shillings from the passing around of the hat.
One of the first to shake Webb's hand was "Hilary" Samuels who later announced that he would do some preparation and attempt to recapture his record.
On June 27, 1959, the first official Pomona King of the Mountain Race was organised with each runner having to run the course before the next was allowed to start.
Frank Mainwaring was the fastest, taking 31.51 minutes while Samuels took 31.52.5 minutes. The other three runners were Reg Ollenberg (32.06) fourteen-year-old Ken Fullerton (32.27) and Barry Webb (33.34).
The famous King of the Mountain Festival and Race is Noosa's major hinterland festival held in Pomona on the fourth Sunday of July each year.
King of the Mountain, Box 144, Pomona
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