The 2016 Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run has stepped up the pace this year, targeting a field of 500 competitors to make it one of the biggest annual sporting events held in the City of Logan.

Almost 200 runners have already signed up for the event, which is being held on May 29, and for the first time competitors have the chance to take in the picturesque Griffith University arboretum before heading to nearby Riverdale Park.

Griffith University student and Australian cross-country representative Brianna Thomas was among the first to sign up for this year’s run. It will be her first major competition after recovering from injury earlier this year.

Ms Thomas, who is completing a Bachelor of Business (Event/Sport Management) degree at Griffith, is an elite national long-distance runner who has represented Queensland at Australian Championships in athletics for the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, as well as cross country for 4km and 6km.

Last year she was selected to represent Australia at the Junior U20 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.

Also among the early starters in the Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run is the Federal Member for Rankin, Jim Chalmers, who took part in last year’s inaugural event.

He will be joined on the blocks by Professor Lesley Chenoweth AO, Griffith University’s Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of Logan campus.

Professor Chenoweth, named among Australia’s 100 Women of Influence, is hoping to make her mark in the 5km leg of the competition.

This year’s Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run already has attracted more than double the competitors of last year’s event. Runners can participate in either the 1km Junior Dash, the 5km or 10km event on the day, with all results officially timed.

Holly Ruhle, Event Co-ordinator at Griffith Sport, said the move to time runners has given this year’s fun run broader appeal to serious competitors.

“At the end of the day though, it’s still about having some fun with family and friends,” she said.

Mrs Ruhle is expecting a field of up to 500 to sign up for this year’s event, with nominations accepted until May 26.

“We have leveraged off the success of the inaugural Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run last year, and we hope to make this an important part of the sporting calendar for the City of Logan,” she said.

“The fun run is a great warm-up event for the Gold Coast Marathon held in early July and we’ve been really pleased with the number of competitors who have already registered.

“This year there have been significant changes to the course, which will run through the arboretum for the first time. The arboretum has become increasingly popular for walkers, with its vineyard feel and structured rows of native trees, and now we’re opening it up to runners for the first time.

“The new course will showcase the natural beauty of Logan to runners and spectators alike, including the magic riverfront backdrop at Riverdale Park.”

The City of Logan has come on board as official sponsor of the event this year, while AEIOU Foundation is the official charity partner.

AEIOU Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing full-time early intervention and learning programs for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. All funds raised from the Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run will go to this worthy cause.