Marathon Spotlight: Sydney Running Festival
Destination races can be an exhilarating running goal for many. Just the thought of running through entirely new scenery and an exciting culture makes 26.2 miles seem even more doable. There are thousands of runners in the world that make it an ultimate goal to run a marathon in all seven continents. One race that often becomes part of this feat is the Sydney Marathon in Australia, known as the Sydney Running Festival. It has several races to choose from including the full and half marathon, 10km bridge run, and a family fun run, which is a 3.5km race. It is quite a distance from the United States but is well worth the long flight. The country, in general, is a fantastic destination to vacation, but if you are lucky enough to plan your trip during marathon season, this race should make it to your to-do list!
If you are used to training in moderately hilly terrain, then this course will feel relatively easy for you. The majority of the course is rolling hills, some larger than others. Some of the higher inclines are actually on the roads leading to the end of the race, so it is beneficial to practice hill running late in training runs to get your legs used to climbing when fatigued. The course runs through the city’s most beautiful scenery, so you can be sure to never get bored. Within the first few miles of the race, you run up and over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is one of the most spectacular sites. Although you are able to see the entire city while running, the metro buses run along the sides, therefore blocking any views of the bay.
There are a few iconic parks you will also run through, including the Royal Botanic Gardens and Centennial Park, which consume about 12 kilometers of the full marathon course. These parks consist of continuous rolling hills and unfortunately not many spectators, so you will need your mental strength to get you through to the halfway point at the exit of these parks. The second half of the marathon course runs through several other scenic areas including the cute neighborhood of Darlinghurst and Darling Harbour, where runners get to race through a waterside attraction filled with restaurants, bars, an aquarium, and shopping. This is where you will find a decent crowd to push you past the 35-kilometer point.
The last 7 kilometers of the race consists of continued rolling hills but thankfully smaller in size. Unfortunately, runners will need their remaining stamina to keep up their paces, as the crowds are extremely minimal to none as you run through the new developments of Barangaroo. Thankfully this is also waterside with views of the Harbour Bridge and the city’s tallest buildings. This leads you to Circular Quay and down the finish shoot where the largest of the crowds of spectators are waiting to cheer you on to a fast finish. The finish line is located right beside the Sydney Opera House, which is the most iconic landmark in the city.
Just beyond the finish line is where runners will get a small snack of a selection of fruit along with their finisher t-shirt, medal, and water bottles. It is a short walk and long staircase to the festival on the Sydney Opera House grounds where runners can join their families. Vendors of many athletic and health foods brands are set up alongside other tents for massages, souvenirs, and great spots for photos. If you want more than just some fruit and water for recovery, there are meals for purchase throughout the finish festival, such as breakfast burritos, hot dogs, and smoothies. One of the best parts about the venue is the scheduled yoga and stretching classes runners can partake in to help ease tired marathon legs.
If you are looking for a destination for a race caution, the Sydney Running Festival will definitely hit the spot! This race has many positives, as it is a dream vacation destination for just about everyone, so you can count on spectacular views throughout the entire course. The race is held in mid-September, which is just about the end of Winter in Australia. The almost-perfect weather consists of temperatures usually in the low to mid-50s with sunshine, although there can be occasional rain at times during these months. There are few downsides to this race. The extremely low count of spectators throughout the course may make 26.2 miles feel extremely long. Quiet streets are tough to get through, especially at the end of the race. The elevation profile depicts this race as a moderately hilly one, but nothing that should turn you away from signing up! It may end up slowing you down at times, but racing in this beautiful city is a privilege and you may end up not even caring about a PR.
- Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, websitee ,