If you’re after a PB, then this course may not be for you. Not that it’s particularly hilly, but if it’s a speedy time you’re after, your best bet is the GC Half Marathon a month later. While Brisbane’s Half Marathon course doesn’t boast a dead-flat experience like the Gold Coast, it offers so much more in showing off the River City’s landmarks in ideal conditions.
The race starts at 6am from Colchester St in Brisbane’s South Bank area. It’s still dark at that time, but the sun isn’t far away. This year, the weather conditions offered up a perfect blend of minimal wind and a cool (but not too cool!) temperature of 10°c as the starting gun fired.
The first 2km involves a double-back on Grey St before slowly ascending up Vulture St towards Kangaroo Point Cliffs. The first ‘hard part’ of the race is worth it, if the hill didn’t take your breath away, the view certainly will! A popular tourist hotspot, River Terrace atop the Kangaroo Point Cliffs presents thousands of eager runners with one of the best views in the city. By now the sun is starting to come out and the descent before the Story Bridge is most welcome.
The run continues along Brisbane’s famous Story Bridge, turning a sharp right toward New Farm before finding yourself back at sea-level. You’re almost 1/3 of the way through by the time you make your way onto the New Farm Riverwalk – a 1km stretch of concrete ‘boardwalk’ on the water. From here we get another view of Brisbane City and also the daunting of view of the Story Bridge which you’re about to run up and over for a second time. This is the stinger. The hill from the newly-developed Howard Smith Wharves up the Story Bridge will hurt; either your legs, your lungs or your time. But after this, it’s (almost literally) all down hill from here! Returning for a second glimpse of the Brisbane CBD waking up along River Terrace before heading back towards South Bank.
The course from about the 8.5k mark gets much easier. The downhill off the Story Bridge to South Bank and further on to Riverside Drive in Brisbane’s West End – a long stretch of flat road along the Brisbane River – one of the city’s most popular recreational areas for cyclists, runners and walkers given the view, amenities and proximity to the CBD. When you make a U-turn at Aldi, you have about 5km to go.
The new stretch of boardwalk from the Kurilpa Bridge to the Victoria Bridge had opened only a day or two before the event ensuring that the final stretch is nothing but a flat, scenic stretch before the final stinger up and over the Goodwill Bridge. The short, sharp ascent over the bridge will hurt, but it’s worth it when you’ve begun to descend knowing the finish line is half a kilometre away. A quick surge down the bridge before a sharp left, then right turn where you empty the tank in front of Brisbane’s Riverstage at the Botanic Gardens.
While having the finish line over the river from where you started isn’t ideal as it can prove a logistical nightmare trying to organise a post-run catch up if you don’t have your phone – or worse a jumper – but the electric finish at Riverstage makes it worth it in providing a great atmosphere and plenty of post-run breakfast options after. If you want to avoid disappointment, make sure you make a booking at where ever you decide to go post-race and skip the queue. Trust me.
Written by: Jay Flashgordon
Images courtesy of Brisbane Marathon Festival