Australia's best marathons.
© David Marcu
Fitness

Lace 'em up: 9 of the best marathons in Australia

Can run, will run. But where run? Here are our picks for some of Australia's best marathons year-long round.
By Thomas Elliott
8 min readUpdated on
Australian marathon runners are spoiled for choice. There are dozens of annual full marathons, half marathons and 10km races all over the country, from the Victorian Alps to the middle of the Outback. You can run in snow, through autumn wineries or along the switchbacks of the Great Ocean Road.
Picking the ‘best’ is fairly subjective, but these are our favourites: a mix of the most prestigious, the toughest, and the ones with the best scenery.
Lace up. These are the best marathons in Australia.
01

Australian Outback Marathon

The Australian Outback Marathon is an extraordinary event that combines the thrill of long-distance running with the breathtaking beauty of the Australian Outback. Held annually, this marathon takes participants on a challenging yet awe-inspiring journey through the vast and rugged landscapes of Australia's iconic red desert. Runners have the opportunity to experience the untamed wilderness, with red earth beneath their feet and stunning natural landmarks as their backdrop.
The course winds through dusty trails, ancient gorges, and stretches of endless open terrain, providing a unique and immersive running experience. With temperatures soaring and the harsh environment testing their endurance, participants are rewarded with a profound sense of accomplishment as they conquer the extreme conditions of the Outback.
The Australian Outback Marathon offers not just a physical challenge, but also a chance to connect with the spirit of this wild and captivating land, leaving participants with memories that will last a lifetime.
When: 27 July 2024
Location: Uluru, Northern Territory
02

Great Ocean Road Marathon

The Great Ocean Road Marathon is a premier running event that takes participants on a remarkable journey along one of the world's most scenic coastal roads. Stretching for 44 kilometers (26.2 miles) along Australia's stunning Great Ocean Road, this marathon offers a truly breathtaking and picturesque route. Runners are treated to panoramic views of the majestic Southern Ocean, dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and lush rainforests as they navigate the undulating course.
The race combines the challenges of endurance with the sheer beauty of the surroundings, creating an unforgettable experience for participants. As they push their limits, runners are motivated by the sound of crashing waves, the invigorating ocean breeze, and the incredible natural wonders that line the route. The Great Ocean Road Marathon not only tests the physical abilities of its participants but also serves as a celebration of the remarkable coastal landscapes that make Australia truly unique.
The Great Ocean Road Marathon. This is a six-race event, catering to everyone from club runners and ultra pros to wheelchair participants – you can sign up for the ultra, full or half marathon, or the 14km, 6km or 1.5km fun runs. With the Otways on your right and a windswept ocean panorama on your left, this is probably Australia’s best-looking road race.
When: 18-19 May 2024
Location: Great Ocean Road, Victoria
03

The Canberra Times Marathon Festival

The Canberra Times Marathon Festival is a highly anticipated annual event that brings together running enthusiasts from near and far to test their limits and experience the beauty of Australia's capital city. With a range of race distances to cater to all abilities, from the full marathon to shorter options like the half marathon, 10K, and 5K races, there is something for everyone.
Participants are treated to a scenic and well-organised course that showcases the iconic landmarks of Canberra, including Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House, and the stunning Australian War Memorial.
The event attracts both competitive runners aiming for personal bests and recreational participants seeking a memorable and enjoyable running experience. The festival atmosphere, combined with the support of enthusiastic spectators, creates an electric energy throughout the race.
The Canberra Times Marathon Festival is a celebration of fitness, community, and the spirit of Canberra, leaving participants with a sense of achievement and a deep appreciation for this vibrant and picturesque city.
When: 7 April 2024
Location: Canberra, ACT
04

Wings For Life Australian Run

Rhiannan Iffland poses for a portrait at the Wings for Life World Run App Run in Sydney, Australia on May 08, 2022.

Rhiannan Iffland at the Wings for Life World Run

© Ken Leanfore for Wings for Life World Run

This unique race happens not only around Australia but the world at the same time. A 'virtual' catcher car leaves half an hour after the race begins and slowly chases down runners. This clever feature makes it a one-of-a-kind race.
The goal of the race is to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries and a way to raise funds for research and real-world solutions for those who have tragically had spinal cord injuries.
Now in its 10th year the race sees millions of participants annually with no sign of slowing down. Sign up here for 2024.
05

Six Foot Track Marathon

The Six Foot Track Marathon is a legendary race that immerses participants in the rugged beauty of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia. Spanning 45 kilometers (28 miles) along the historic Six Foot Track, this marathon presents a formidable challenge for trail runners.
The course takes runners through a diverse landscape, including steep ascents, technical descents, dense forests, and picturesque river crossings. Participants are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and majestic escarpments as they navigate the demanding terrain. The race is known for its camaraderie and supportive atmosphere, with runners encouraging and motivating one another along the way.
The Six Foot Track Marathon is not just a test of physical endurance, but a journey that allows participants to connect with nature, conquer personal limits, and create lasting memories in the heart of the Blue Mountains.
When: 9 March 2024
Location: Katoomba, NSW
06

Tassie Trail Fest Marathon

The Tassie Trail Fest Marathon is an exhilarating event that showcases the natural wonders of Tasmania, Australia's island state. Set amidst the pristine wilderness and rugged landscapes, this marathon offers a unique and challenging trail running experience.
Participants embark on a thrilling journey through ancient forests, scenic mountain ranges, and stunning coastal trails. With varying terrains and elevation changes, the course demands both strength and agility from runners. As they push themselves to conquer the rugged trails, participants are rewarded with breathtaking views of Tasmania's unspoiled beauty, including cascading waterfalls, panoramic vistas, and unique wildlife encounters.
The Tassie Trail Fest Marathon not only celebrates the spirit of adventure but also provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the untouched natural beauty that Tasmania is renowned for. It is an unforgettable experience that connects runners with the awe-inspiring landscapes and the wild essence of this remarkable island.
When: TBA
Location: Derby, Tasmania
07

City to Surf

There are several City To Surf-type events around Australia, including the Sun Herald City2Surf in Sydney, the City To Surf in Perth and Brisbane’s City2South. Sydney’s event is probably the biggest, but it’s only a 14km course. For the marathon, head to Perth. The 42km trail has got to be one of the most picturesque city marathons in Australia, looping past the Swan River and the Old Swan Brewery, then through Kings Park and the University Of Western Australia. The festival itself draws about 45,000 people from all over the country, so lock this one down for August.
When: 11 August 2024
Location: Perth, WA
08

Melbourne Marathon

Melbourne calls it “Australia’s largest marathon”, and we’re not going to argue. The Melbourne Marathon has been running every years since 1978, and usually draws around 6,000 runners (in the full marathon category).
The race takes participants on a captivating journey through Melbourne's streets, parks, and along the picturesque Yarra River. Runners are greeted with enthusiastic support from crowds of spectators lining the course, creating an electric and motivating environment. The Melbourne Marathon is renowned for its organization, professionalism, and commitment to delivering an exceptional race experience. From first-time marathoners to elite athletes, participants come together to challenge themselves, achieve personal milestones, and create lasting memories.
The event not only showcases the beauty of Melbourne but also fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among participants and supporters. The Melbourne Marathon is a celebration of determination, athleticism, and the indomitable spirit of those who embrace the joy of running.
When: 13 October 2024
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
09

Rottnest Running Festival

The Rottnest Running Festival is a captivating event that combines the thrill of running with the natural beauty of Rottnest Island in Western Australia. This festival offers a variety of race distances, from a full marathon to shorter options like the half marathon, 10K, and 5K races, catering to runners of all levels.
The course takes participants on a mesmerizing journey along the island's pristine coastline, showcasing stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque landscapes. Runners are treated to panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and may even spot the famous quokkas, the island's adorable marsupial residents.
The Rottnest Running Festival offers a unique and unforgettable experience, where participants can challenge themselves while surrounded by the island's tranquility and natural splendor. Whether aiming for a personal best or simply enjoying the scenic route, this festival celebrates the joy of running and the incredible beauty of Rottnest Island. One more thing they do here: when the marathon begins on Sunday, it’s heralded by the wailing of bagpipes. We have no idea why.
When: 16 June 2024
Location: Rottnest Island, WA
Why do we care about running? There are of course the mental and physical benefits once you tie up your joggers and stretch your legs but also because of our annual Wings For Life charity run. The annual global run raises funds for spinal cord research to help those who need it most.

3 min

Best moments from the Wings for Life World Run 2023

Hundreds of thousands people worldwide raced to support cutting-edge spinal cord research. See the highlights.

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