The word is that it’s all down to a couple of Gordonvale cane farmers. It had been another typical sweltering day of backbreaking work swinging a knife in the cane fields and in time-honoured tradition, there were mighty thirsts to be quenched at the local pub. The bar was fronted, and as the pots went down, they worked their magic. Tongues were loosened, the tales got taller and boasts invariably got bigger until the inevitable happened. A challenge was thrown down.

Who of the two could get to the top of the nearby Walsh’s Pyramid and back in the shortest time? A bet was made between them and being where it was made, the word spread like a cane fire, and the ever-enterprising local bookie was soon posting the odds taking bets. The amber liquid, so often the cause of many mad ventures, had spawned what would eventually become The Great Pyramid Race.

It gained some official organisation and status in 1959 as part of Queensland’s Centenary celebrations and went on to become an annual event that gets marked in the diaries of some of the finest and fittest runners, as a “must”.

The results of that first boozy challenge may be shrouded in myth, legend and outrageous exaggeration, but today, though competitors may deliver record runs, the mountain remains as formidable and challenging as ever. The Great Pyramid Race takes its place as an event of world class.


The current record for the 12km race stands at 1:15:34 set in 2007 by Neil Labinsky, a mountain specialist runner from the Sunshine Coast. The Women’s record is 1:32:06 set in 1997 by local runner Anita Appleby.

Since 1959, the training for the competition has gone from “no training at all except for chas- ing wild pigs in the scrub”, to “intense training programs for dedicated athletics”.