6 Must-Run Marathons In Australia

by Sportitude

From its golden surf beaches to wild bushland, Australia is known for its rugged beauty. Australian cities are awe-inspiring - a splendour of art, culture and diversity – but on marathon day, the streets ignite with an unforgettable celebration of running and unity.     

Sportitude gives you a breakdown of the 6 must-run marathons in Australia. What do we mean by must-run? Well, that depends on you.

There’s an Australian marathon for every runner – whether you’re training to crush your PB on a fast and flat course, enthusiastic to do a running tour of Australia’s iconic landmarks or are seeking a cathartic experience to connect with the raw wilderness and picturesque coastline that’s like no other in the world.

Lace up, put your marathon training to the test and treat yourself to one of the most rewarding experiences of your life by running the best marathons in Australia. Just don’t forget to soak in the view!

Sydney Marathon

About The Sydney Marathon

The Sydney Marathon originated in April 2000 as the ‘Host City Marathon’. It was essentially a trial run for the upcoming Sydney Olympic Games, which was held in September of the same year.

Officially launching in 2001, the Sydney Marathon became an annual September event, commemorating Sydney’s legacy as the host city of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

This epic race followed the same route as the original marathon until 2010, when the race organises opted for a course change – taking it in a flatter direction to allow for faster finishing times and a more scenic route that was accommodating for spectators. The 2023 course also was refreshed – trading many of the 180-degree bends for a more smooth-flowing running experience.

The 2024 Sydney Marathon course welcomes even more changes, inspired by runner feedback. This includes a revised starting location next to North Sydney Oval, no U-turns in Centennial Park for a more engaging route, and the addition of accommodating downhill sections.

The Sydney Marathon is a candidate race for the Abbott World Marathon Majors – and if successful, will join the prestigious status of the Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon and New York City Marathon. 

Why You’ll Love The Sydney Marathon

The Sydney Marathon invites you on a running tour of one of the world’s most scenic cities and breathtaking natural harbours.

Not only does this picturesque route guarantee visual awe as you put foot to pavement next to some of Australia’s most iconic landmarks – but invites you to run across the historic Sydney Harbour Bridge itself during one of the rare occasions it’s closed to traffic. With spectacular 360-degree views – this is certainly a race worthy of your bucket list. Just be aware that with the stunning scenery of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and beyond, you may be tempted to slow down the pace to soak in the view.

The Sydney Marathon offers a happy balance to accommodate everyone from recreational runners to seasoned athletes. In recent years the race cut off time has been increased to 7 hours, making it a go-to race for first-time marathoners. The updated 2024 Sydney Marathon route also allows experienced athletes to shift the pace up a gear – being a more PB-friendly course compared to 2023.

The Sydney Marathon (42.195km) is part of the Sydney Running Festival – one of Australia’s largest running festivals - which is currently undergoing rebranding. Unfortunately, the Sydney Marathon 21.1km (half marathon) has been cancelled to prioritise the full marathon event, as it's in the running to become a part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

On a positive note there are still multiple events included, being the Sydney Marathon 10km (previously called the ‘Bridge Run’) and Sydney Mini Marathon (4.2km) to facilitate runners of all ages and abilities.

The Sydney Marathon rewards you at the finish line with a close encounter of the magnificent Sydney Opera House – allowing you to put your feet up on its iconic steps, whereas the Sydney Marathon 10km and Sydney Mini Marathon conclude at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The Sydney Marathon is a buzz of adrenaline and excitement. It allows you to join the cacophony of over 40,000 runners from all over the globe participating in the variety of running events on offer.

The Sydney Marathon itself welcomed 17,000 participants in 2023 - a new record. Since its inception, runners participating in the Sydney Marathon have raised over $23 million for charity – just one more reason to lace up!

The Sydney Marathon Course

Presented by Asics, the 2024 Sydney Marathon course is now faster and smoother, featuring pleasantly wide roads and being adjusted to avoid congestion around Milsons Point, its previous starting location.

The 2024 Sydney Marathon begins just beyond North Sydney Oval at Miller Street - providing easy access for commuters from the North Sydney train station which is a brief 10 minute walk. This starting location is also nostalgic for many participants, giving a nod back to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Marathon.

It starts with a gradual descent, rather than an incline as per the previous year, allowing you to comfortably find your running rhythm. Turns have been minimised for a more smooth-flowing experience, with the only 180-degree turn unfolding 20km into the race.

Loyal Sydney Marathon fans will be happy to know that it still takes you over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, weaves through the lush greenery of Centennial Park (now only in a single loop, reducing repetitive out-and-back sections) and ends at the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Check out the official 2024 Sydney Marathon page for more information and updates.

Date of the Sydney Marathon: 15th of September, 2024

Melbourne Marathon

About The Melbourne Marathon

If we rewind the clock back to 1909, Victoria’s very first marathon took place. Running from Frankston to Melbourne, it nurtured the Australian state’s enthusiasm for running for decades to come.

Many major city marathons were inspired by the ‘marathon fever’ that sprouted globally with the success of the New York Marathon in 1970 – including the 1978 modern iteration of the Melbourne Marathon – a point-to-point course with similarities to the Boston Marathon.

Formally the ‘Big M Melbourne Marathon’, it’s been running for over four decades - a celebration of running as part of Australia’s national identity. 

Why You’ll Love The Melbourne Marathon

Melbourne city has everything from bustling festivals to hidden secrets that will reward anyone with a spirit for exploration. Meander down the maze of urban alleyways and you may find hidden-away gems – charming bars, secret gardens and evocative street art. In a word, the city is re-visitable – offering a new experience every time, especially if you’re happy to stroll away from the mainstream.

Melbourne has been called Australia’s unofficial sporting capital and running hub (although we believe Australia’s running hub is right here at Sportitude Running!). The Melbourne Marathon itself is part of the Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival.

It’s an inclusive event – featuring the Nike Melbourne Marathon (42.195km), Nike Wheelchair Marathon (42.195km), Nike Half Marathon (21.1km), 10km Run, 5km Run and 3km Walk – allowing athletes from all abilities – whether you’re a marathon first-timer, pro or running with the kids, to participate and soak in the feel-good vibes.

The Melbourne Marathon is fast and flat – catering to both elite runners with a competitive spirit and those seeking a beginner-friendly yet nevertheless inspirational experience as they run alongside the marathon greats. With every turn, there’s another Melbourne landmark to admire – giving you a fix of Melbourne’s unique and culturally rich character, architecture and diversity. 

The Melbourne Marathon Course

Starting at Batman Avenue, the Melbourne Marathon takes you past the historic Flinders Street Station, then it’s south on St Kilda Road. Turning right onto Fitzroy Street, you’ll run a lap of Albert Park Lake – the backdrop of the Formula1 Australian Grand Prix. Following Fitzroy Street, you’ll be rewarded with views of Melbourne’s Luna Park and pass the flat yet often windy coastal suburban road, Beach Road which is a haven for cyclists.

You’ll see the War Memorial as you run through Melbourne’s iconic Tan Track around the Botanic Gardens which is among Melbourne’s most famous running routes (being originally built as a tanbark horse-riding track in the early 1900s). After meeting again with St Kilda road, you’ll run past Federation Square – a hub for art lovers and foodies – then join Brunton Avenue for the final stretch to Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), crossing the finish line with the roaring support of spectators.

Please note, this information is correct as of 2023. The Melbourne Marathon Course may experience changes in 2024. Check out the official 2024 Melbourne Marathon Festival page for more information and updates.

Date of the Melbourne Marathon: 13th of October, 2024

Adelaide Marathon

About The Adelaide Marathon

There’s no stopping the Adelaide Marathon – a celebration of running for all ages and abilities that’s highly anticipated each and every year. Even during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, runners laced up to join the well-deserved hype and joyous cacophony in a safe environment.

The Adelaide Marathon is run by the South Australian Road Runners Club (SARRC) – with a vision to ensure “everyone has the opportunity to run”.

This non-for-profit organisation has its roots back in 1980, founded to support runners participating in the Adelaide Marathon that dates back to 1979. The SARRC are currently South Australia’s largest running group – and Sportitude Running is proud to partner with them to share a mutual passion for running across the state.

The Adelaide Marathon is backed by big names in the running world, with PREPD Hydration sponsoring the Half Marathon and Marathon in 2024.

Why You’ll Love The Adelaide Marathon

Living up to Adelaide’s reputation as the festival state, the Adelaide Marathon Festival doesn’t disappoint. Taking its place among Adelaide’s tourist-attracting events like the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Adelaide Marathon Festival draws runners near and far to put their potential on the road.

A city marathon with awe-striking scenery, the Adelaide Marathon provides a running tour of Adelaide’s favourite treasures, including the heritage listed Adelaide Parklands and picturesque Botanic Gardens. Being AIMS certified, it can be a stepping stone to bucket list marathons like the Boston Marathon – allowing you to set a qualifying time.

Being relatively flat with a tame elevation gain of about 160 metres, the Adelaide Marathon is on the radar for runners that prefer to steer clear of hilly courses. Spectators are able to gain easy access to various areas of the course without difficulty, so you can expect to be cheered on by a motivation-building crowd.

The Adelaide Marathon (42.195km) is in its 46th year – and over the years the inclusion of additional events such as the 21.1km Adelaide Half Marathon, Adelaide 10km and Adelaide 5km Fun Run/Walk has made the excitement of the event accessible to more participants – whether running recreationally or chasing down a new PB. Finishers medals are up for grabs in all events.

The Adelaide Marathon Course

The marathon is a 2-loop course, kicking-off and concluding at Bonython Park of the Adelaide Parklands. It continues through War Memorial Drive to Adelaide Oval then follows the River Torrens and the go-to circuit of many running locals and run clubs, the Uniloop. You’re rewarded with a run through the scenic Botanic Park, along the Adelaide Zoo until meeting the Torrens River again, ending at Bonython Park.

Check out the official 2024 Adelaide Marathon Festival page for more information and updates.

Date of the Adelaide Marathon: 25th of August, 2024

Gold Coast Marathon

About The Gold Coast Marathon

There’s a reason why the Gold Coast is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia – living up to its name with picturesque golden surf beaches, as well as a plethora of dining options from coastal cafes to bustling restaurants, not to mention the famous theme parks. 

The Gold Coast Marathon gives you a running tour of the surf beaches and Gold Coast Broadwater, and is celebrated as being among the most scenic marathon courses in Australia. Referred to as “Australia’s premier road race”, it’s a prestigious running event, and was the first World Athletics (WA) Gold Label Road Race in the country.

The first Gold Coast marathon was held in 1979 in Evandale to promote health awareness among the Gold Coast community, and was implemented by the Rotary Club of Surfers Paradise. In 2024 the Gold Coast Marathon continues to run strong, anticipating over 26,000 participants.

Why You’ll Love The Gold Coast Marathon

The Gold Coast Marathon encourages you to “run for the good times”. Recognised across the globe, the Gold Coast Marathon is a must-run event for locals to international travellers alike. The beaches of Australia are like no other, and this marathon is a true representation of that.

The Gold Coast is the perfect destination to retreat for a holiday during Australia’s chiller seasons, allowing residents of the less sun-drenched states to find a reprieve from goosebump weather. Held in July, the peak of winter in Australia, conditions are run-ready – with mild temperatures and low humidity allowing you to flow comfortably into your stride.

These conditions doubled up with the fact that the course is among the fastest and flattest in Australia makes setting a new PB a real possibility. If running the Boston Marathon is on your bucket list, the Gold Coast Marathon may be the secret to qualifying, alongside quality marathon training

The Gold Coast Marathon combines outstanding spectator support with inspiring coastal scenery to fuel your motivation. Road closures and safety barriers where needed create a safe-to-run environment, and plenty of aid stations make re-hydrating and refuelling a smooth experience.

With a variety of events across 2 days, there is an experience to suit your performance goals and ability. Alongside the Asics Gold Coast Marathon (42.195km) are other events including wheelchair races, Half Marathon (21.1km), 10km Run, 5km Run, 4km and 2km Junior Dash races for the little athletes of the family.

The Gold Coast Marathon Course

Presented by Asics, the updated 2024 Gold Coast Marathon start line has been shifted 600m south from its previous location at the Southport Broadwater Parklands, helping reduce congestion.

It runs into Main Beach via Sundale Bridge, then in a northerly direction up Sea World Drive in a new stretch of course, followed by a turn at Sea World to return south.

Continuing south, it takes you on a journey past the Gold Coast’s famous surf beaches and suburbs including Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Mermaid Beach, Nobby Beach and Miami. A southern turn point at Miami - new to the 2024 Gold Coast Marathon route - has you returning north along the coastal roads.

After heading back over Sundale Bridge and past the starting line at Southport 30km in, the course continues north to immerse yourself in the Gold Coast Broadwater, through Labrador and Biggera Waters to Runaway Bay. Here, the 36.2km point directs you back south for the final stretch.

If you're a past Gold Coast Marathon participant, you'll notice the course has been adjusted to include turns on to wider, more accommodating roads and to avoid congestion on sections of coastal roads where necessary. It reconnects with the coastal roads where the conditions are more run-friendly - giving you the scenic views without interrupting your running rhythm.

Check out the official 2024 Gold Coast Marathon and Gold Coast Marathon Course page for more information and updates.

 Date of the Gold Coast Marathon: 7th of July, 2024

Australian Outback Marathon

About The Australian Outback Marathon

Desert marathons are rarely heard of – and yet the Australian Outback Marathon in the Northern Territory invites you to lace up and not only be challenged by the distance, but the environment. 6 years in the making, the Australian Outback Marathon was the dream of Mari-Mar Walton (founder of Travelling Fit) who was inspired after visiting Uluru in 2004.

Upon the Australian Outback Marathon first launching on the 31st of July 2010, 187 runners participated. By 2014, that number had more than doubled and continued to rise, attracting runners from across the globe.

The first time you step upon the red earth is a moment to be remembered – not to mention the 42km of sweat and smiles following – a truly cathartic experience.

Why You’ll Love The Australian Outback Marathon

The Australian Outback Marathon is a paradox in many ways – being a rugged yet spectacularly beautiful course. The Outback Marathon invites runners to trade the hustle and bustle of the city for stark red sand. With suburbia or skyscrapers surrounding much of our everyday life, it’s a reminder that Australia truly is the “sunburnt country” – worthy of adoration and respect.

The Australian Outback Marathon stands out among the pack – breaking free from the concrete jungle that serves as a backdrop to city marathons for the sparse desert landscape, where you’ll truly be at the mercy of the elements. Alongside the sand dunes, there’s the potential that you’ll spot dingos or camels (yes, Australia has a high feral camel population!) on your journey.

You may have to re-think your choice of footwear – trading road running shoes for trail running shoes - because, refreshingly, the Australian Outback Marathon is a combination of terrain – welcoming fatigued legs with softer bush tracks and shifting sand as opposed to being solely on pavement.

Being primarily flat in nature, you may wonder if this course will help you crush your previous marathon times. Put that thought to rest, because with the potential for soaring temperatures, you’ll want to set a pace that’s safe for the conditions. Needless to say, hydration is key. Instead of focusing on achieving your best performance, focus on soaking in the one-of-a-kind experience. 

Travelling Fit, the race organiser, has prioritised accessibility for any running ability – with the Marathon, Half Marathon and 2 Fun Runs of 11km and 6km, welcoming a variety of participants.

Expect heat – expect sand (and lots of it!) and to have one of the best and most rewarding runs of your life. If you want roaring crowds, head to the city because here the atmosphere is serene and beautifully still.

The Australian Outback Marathon Course

At the heart of Australia, the route provides stunning views of the geographical rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta that hold strong spiritual significance as sacred sites to the Aboriginal people.

The out-and-back loop is well-marked, and provides numerous terrain transitions – from graded bush tracks, to densely-packed fire trails, soft sand to unsealed roads. It offers multiple crossings over the Lasseter Highway, with the first being followed up by Mala Road, one of the rare sealed roads, heading to the village of Yulara. You’ll again be welcomed by the red earth as you race towards Connellan Airport.

You’ll navigate the first small sand dunes at around the 12km mark, with your climbs rewarded by views of the sandstone monolith Uluru. “Jem’s Dune” signifies the halfway point – a sand dune that surpasses all others on the course in softness and steepness.

About 27km in the direction veers back to the starting line, eventually meeting again with Mala Road. The terrain transitions to red earth at about 36km, offering a kind reprieve for fatigued legs. You’ll be rewarded by views of both Kata Tjuta (on the left) and Uluru (on the right) to inspire you to the finish line... then it’s simply a matter of soaking in your success!

Check out the official 2024 Australian Outback Marathon page for more information and updates.

Date of the Australian Outback Marathon: 27th of July, 2024

Great Ocean Road Marathon

About The Great Ocean Road Marathon

One of the most stunning marathon backdrops in not only in Victoria or Australia, but the world, the Great Ocean Road Marathon is heart-racing – both for its remarkable scenery and historical significance.

The Great Ocean Road is Australia’s largest war memorial, honouring the soldiers that died in World War I. The building of the 243km road – an Australian icon - provided work for over 3000 returned servicemen, a construction effort that spanned from 1919 – 1932.

Hugging the enchanting coastline and lined by untouched rainforest upon stunning cliffs, the Great Ocean Road made these breathtaking natural views accessible. The 12 Apostles are among the most notable splendours on the Great Ocean Road, although the marathon route doesn’t pass them – making them a worthwhile trip pre- or post-race. These rock stacks were naturally formed by erosion over millions of years, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring setting as they rise from the ocean beneath.

The first ever Great Ocean Road Marathon was in 2005, offering an inspirational journey for runners as they put foot to pavement along the pristine coastline, surrounded by stunning views of the Southern Ocean and the crisp, coastal air.

Why You’ll Love The Great Ocean Road Marathon

Driving on the Great Ocean Road is one thing – but running on it is truly another as you immerse yourself in an environment that offers both beautiful and surreal wilderness, alongside allowing you to become part of its rich history. There are few coastal roads like it.

Slightly longer than a standard marathon at 44km, the Great Ocean Road Marathon will challenge you with undulating hills that can be punishing on aching knees, and the potential for windy conditions. However, being held in May the conditions are just-right in terms of temperature for running, keeping the heat at bay. 

The Great Ocean Road Marathon strips back the crowd support (with the road closed to traffic) and live entertainment of big city marathons (although the kite festival is unmissable!) – for a road that runs alongside serene, breathtaking views. To the left, witness the spectacular waves of the Southern Ocean and to the right, vibrant and lush rainforest.

With lower participation than big city marathons, the Great Ocean Road Marathon has a small-town feel – welcoming, friendly and enthusiastic. With the cacophony of the city far behind, the thud-thud of your fellow runners’ footsteps and the sound of crashing waves offer a captivating soundtrack to your journey. It’s truly an experience that invigorates your senses.

The Great Ocean Road Running Festival (now called RACV Solar Great Ocean Road Running Festival) is a 2-day event and consists of multiple races including an Ultra Marathon (60km), the Marathon (44km), Half Marathon (23km), 14km Paradise Run, 6km Run and 1.5km Kids' Gallop, so whether you’re a walker, runner or have the family in tow, you have the opportunity to be entranced by the experience. It’s a must-do on the bucket list for everyone from marathon first-timers to professional runners.

The Great Ocean Road Marathon Course

The Great Ocean Road marathon runs from the small town of Lorne (approx. 2 hours from Melbourne) which is among the first gems on the Great Ocean Road, to Apollo Bay, an enchanting seaside town commonly referred to as “paradise by the sea”.

You'll journey through Wyre River, Kennett River and Skenes Creek, with opportunities to soak in the breathtaking coastal views or to potentially spot wildlife along the way.

Check out the official 2024 Great Ocean Road Running Festival page for more information and updates.

Date of the Great Ocean Road Marathon: 19th of May, 2024

Happy marathon training, chase those PBs and we’ll see you on the road!

Hunting for your go-to marathon shoe? For an in-depth shoe fitting experience, you can book a free 15 minute video chat in a Live Fit session or make an appointment to discover your RunDNA at Sportitude Running at Hindmarsh or Sportitude at Fullarton.

Book your RunDNA assessment today!

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