By Bonnie Davies
Held in April, the Australian Running Festival takes place in Australia’s capital city Canberra and circuits Lake Burley Griffin. The marathon is also a qualifying marathon for many international events.
The festival provides shorter 5km and 10 km events on the Saturday while the Half Marathon, Marathon and a 50km Ultra Marathon are run on Sunday.
Number collection can occur throughout the week from a suburban rebel sport, which is quite difficult to find and requires a car and GPS if not a local. Alternatively, numbers can be collected the day prior and on the day from the start where a small expo is set up. The expo consists of half a dozen stalls and is relatively low key. Bag drop is located here also and entries are accepted on the day.
All events begin and finish out the front of old parliament house which is approximately 4 km walk from the city and most major hotels. Many people walk to the start, with road closures making driving difficult, alternatively a taxi costs approximately $10.00 and gets you about 500m from the start.
The ultra-marathon starts just after 0600 followed by wheelchair and the marathon at 0625. For the half marathon specialists this event begins at a slightly more sedate time of 0745.
Beginning with trot up the hill to circle parliament house, makes for quite an iconic start, before heading down to the lake. Sights include the aforementioned parliament house, Lake Burley Griffin and fountain, Australian War memorial and beautiful park lands and riverside roads. Like many marathons a percentage of highway running does occur, but feel it did not overshadow the other wonderful sights.
Spectators were dotted throughout the course; and lined thick and loud along the 1km finish through the gardens.
The course is undulating throughout the entire 42.195km and is well suited to Tasmanian runners. The temperature was mild in April and quite comfortable to run in.
All finishers receive a medal and merchandise is available to purchase, though items are limited to a t-shirt or singlet, again it is relatively low key.
Personal opinion of this marathon. I loved it. It is one of my favourites and will remain close to my heart. I achieved a PB and qualified for Boston. I do believe The Australian Running Festival is worthy of far greater publicity to increase the numbers and showcase our country’s capital.