Ballarat marathon runner Julian Spence is hoping for a three-peat victory along Great Ocean Road

LORNE is famed for its pier to pub swimming race, but its marathon puts a whole new twist on running to the pub.

The Great Ocean Road marathon runs 2km further than a traditional marathon – 44km from the Lorne Pub to the Apollo Bay Hotel.

Ballarat marathon runner Julian Spence, who owns The Running Company, is lining up for a third consecutive win in the Great Ocean Road Marathon on Sunday.

ON THE RUN: Running store owner Julian Spence is the latest elite long-distance runner to hail from Ballarat and will attempt to win his third consecutive Great Ocean Road Marathon on Sunday. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

ON THE RUN: Running store owner Julian Spence is the latest elite long-distance runner to hail from Ballarat and will attempt to win his third consecutive Great Ocean Road Marathon on Sunday. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

The Great Ocean Road Marathon is one of Australia's toughest, following the undulating twists, turns and inclines of the Great Ocean Rd along the entire course.

Mr Spence is the latest in a long line of top distance runners hailing from Ballarat and he suspects climate is partly responsible.

"Runners in Ballarat are a lot tougher and committed than runners elsewhere. You complain elsewhere about being cold, but it's a whole different kind of cold here. Even so, runners just dress appropriately and get out and run.”

This will be Mr Spence’s sixth Great Ocean Road Marathon.