Elements running host five events per year as part of the compass club. Held at each of the five compass points of Australia, this event was the northern compass point finishing at the very tip of Cape York and the most northern tip of Australia. A trip to “the tip” as known by locals is definitely worth the effort of getting here whether for a run or not. The water though not safe to swim in, is the most beautiful blue, the sand pure white and untouched while the wind is refreshing and raw.
The vast difference between North and South compass club location within the same country is almost surreal. So different yet at the same time both are within the same continent.
A trip to Cape York is via Cairns connecting to regional carrier Regional Express (REX). The lowest fare on REX is $404.00 return for 2 hour flight each way and flies into Bamaga which is a quaint little airport with an uncanny resemblance to a shipping container. Luggage is delivered.
Good quality accommodation is available in Bamaga at the Cape York Lodge and have rooms catering for all budgets. The lodge can also arrange 4WD car hire. 4WD are a must due to the terrain, dirt roads and rough corrugations. The cost for car hire is just under $300.00 per day. Due to the isolation of Bamaga and associated towns within the Cape York peninsula, prices for accommodation, fuel and car hire are expensive when compared to those within larger cities.
Bamaga and surrounding towns are large aboriginal communities and the locals are incredibly welcoming a polite. Dogs are free to roam and quickly befriend those staying at the lodge for a feed or treats purchased for them by dog loving tourists! Horses also wander about freely and it is not unusual to see a horse wandering down the Main Street of Bamaga or relieving oneself in the front yard of a random home. All dogs and horses are owned but unlike the western way of treating animals like children; the owned animals here must forage for their own food.
The event is comprised of three distances. A 7 and 21km on the Saturday and the full marathon on the Sunday. Due to COVID-19 many entrants pulled out but a small group of locals and dedicated Tasmanians continued to run both the full and half marathons on the Sunday.
The course begins at the “croc tent”, a large army style tent half way between Bamaga and the tip. It sells souvenirs and local hospitality.
Commencing at 0600 or day break the course runs 1.5km back towards Bamaga before a right turn into another dirt road which leads runners to a trail. The trail is rocky, sandy and undulating in parts. The croc tent to the first turn at the end of the trail is approximately 12km. Returning the same way; once back at the croc tent Runner’s continue down the dirt road all the way to the tip.
All dirt roads have serious corrugations which are difficult to run on. Moving from one side to the other was required to try and find the best line. The roads remain open and for the most part, road users will slow down when passing. A few however will leave you in a cloud of red dust!
Between 15km and 5km from the finish the course winds through dense rain forest filled with an array of beautiful bird calls.
Finishing at the tip car park it’s a short rocky walk to the sign and the absolute tip of Cape York for your obligatory photo.
The terrain is suitable for both road and trail shoes, so it comes down to personal preference.
Water stations were spaced approximately every 10km and locals were very supportive. Given the heat and humidity a hydration vest is a definite requirement. Temperatures are fairly constant between 29-31°c. Humidity is approximately 70% depending upon the time of year the run occurs. This years event was postponed due to Covid-19. Cloud cover protects runners from intense heat but becomes stifling when the sun breaks through.
This marathon is incredible and offers a variety of challenges. Don’t let the heat put you off, as it really is a unique opportunity to explore the magnificent Cape York Peninsula.
Entries are as follows;
- $110.00 early bird to $145.00 for the Marathon
- $60.00 early bird to $85.00 for the Half Marathon; both including a medal and T-shirt, and
- $25.00 for the 7km event which includes a medal with the option of purchasing a T-shirt.
The medals from the marathon, together form a map of Australia so it really does make the series iconic. A trip to Cape York is highly recommended and together with a run; well it’s a match made in heaven.
Written by: Bonnie Davies