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Heartbreak Hill to the Great Ocean Road: six of Australia’s best marathons and fun runs | Australian lifestyle

Heartbreak Hill to the Great Ocean Road: six of Australia’s best marathons and fun runs | Australian lifestyle

Running season is here, and that means running festivals. Whether you’re a beginner hoping to enter your first short-and-sharp fun run or a seasoned racer seeking a longer, stiffer challenge, Australia’s calendar of events has something for everyone.

From tropical islands and the red dirt of the outback to the best on offer in the big cities, we have selected some of the most unmissable long-distance running events from around the country. This selection of extracts from the newly published guide book, Weekend Runner Australia, will help get you over the figurative start line – and then seeking more.

New South Wales – City2Surf

Where: Sydney CBD to Bondi
When: 11 August 2024
Distance: 14km

Few things are more certain in life than death, taxes and Heartbreak Hill. The 2km incline up New South Head Road from Rose Bay to Vaucluse – about 6km into Australia’s most famous fun run – spares nobody’s soul. The term “fun run” is open to interpretation, depending on whether you are a serious competitor, an amateur or a walker. Whichever way you swing it, your legs will feel the burn at the midway point. If you actually look up from the top to appreciate the view, to your left you’ll see Sydney harbour in all its glory, including a peek at the Harbour Bridge.

On your marks, get set … runners off to a flying start during Sydney’s City2Surf. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

With more than 85,000 entrants, this is the world’s largest fun run and, given that roads have a limited width, you feel the squeeze. Still, organisers have created staggered start waves ranging from the speedsters who pre-qualified to those with wheelchairs and strollers and those with service dogs. The course starts at Hyde Park under St Mary’s Cathedral and heads straight down the highway of William Street.

The route features no fewer than 25 entertainment stations, which far exceeds the number of water stations, and includes live music, DJ sets, food trucks and bars. Some get so distracted by all this that they don’t finish.

If you reach Heartbreak Hill and you’re wearing regular activewear, spare a thought for those doing the hard yards in furry animal costumes. Do not get beaten by someone wearing a gorilla suit; this is bad for self-esteem.

An especially welcome touch is the array of hoses spraying competitors with water to offset the morning heat. And once you have negotiated another small…

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