Hundreds of competitors are ready to take the start line in the 26th edition of the Elleker Running Festival, previously known as the Elleker Half Marathon, on Sunday. The Albany Athletics Club has confirmed more than 150 people have registered for the annual event despite it being a difficult year for volunteers and participants given the rise of COVID in the community. Organisers are hoping more than 200 will descend on the Elleker Hall for the popular run. There are a number of different races with the course tracking through the small Elleker townsite and surrounds. Entrants will be competing in the half marathon, 10km run, 10km walk or a 1km and 2km kids dash divisions. Last year’s event had a big number of entrants from outside the Great Southern but the AAC is expecting predominantly local competitors to take part this year, given the uncertainty with COVID. Ben Freer who won last year’s half marathon will return. Event organiser Carl Heslop said they were expecting plenty of late entries and were hopeful of surpassing 200 participants. “It’s been a really challenging year for participants and volunteers but we normally see a bit of a rush before entries close,” he said. “I think that rush is particularly going to happen this year with people trying to work out whether they’re going to be sick or not.” Heslop said despite difficulties in this year’s event, volunteers would play a vital role in making sure the half marathon went ahead. “It’s a really large undertaking for the Albany Athletics Club, it’s an entirely volunteer staffed event but it’s an important thing for the club and the region so we have to just make it happen this year as best we can amongst everything going on,” he said. “The club, despite everything going on, has been utterly determined to put this event on this weekend for runners so I guess that’s the key. “We’ve been really determined that it will go ahead and that we’ll make it happen because there’s been a lot of other events (cancelled) over the past year, so we’re pulling all stops to make sure that doesn’t happen.” A race briefing will take place at 8.15am before the half marathon commences at 8.30am. Soup and snacks will be served from 9.30am onwards with presentations set down for 10.30am.