Orange is a rural town in NSW 60km beyond Bathurst. Driving time from Sydney is approximately 3:30hrs but largely traffic dependent. The drive is scenic, taking road trippers through the blue mountains and no drive through Bathurst is complete without a drive on the Mt Panorama race circuit. Orange is over 800m above sea level which can make the first few kilometers a little harder for those used to sea level running.
The events begin on the Saturday with a 2km run and the 5km, 10km, Half Marathon and Full Marathon take place on the Sunday.
Entries open well in advance of the festival Approximately 6 months from the beginning of September; the entry process is easy and early bird entries in the marathon and half marathon which close in early February receive a free T-shirt. Additional T-shirts can be purchased at the time of registration. Entry fees start at $90.00 for the marathon and reduce gradually to $5.00 for the 2km event. Each event increases by $10.00 once early bird entries close. No registrations are permitted on the day.
The start/finish precinct is located at Gosling Creek Reservoir reserve, one of the two major water catchments for Orange.
There are park lands, play ground, BBQ facilities, toilets plus additional portaloos and for family members, walking paths and playing fields located here. This is also where Orange parkrun is held on a Saturday morning for both athletes and families to participate and shake out legs.
It’s an early start with the Marathon heading off at 0630, the Half Marathon at 0645, 10km at 0930 and the 5km at 1030. All events follow the same out and back course turning at their respective points.
The course is rolling and undulating with decent lumps. It heads out on closed sealed country roads. The rural fire service handle all road closures and manage drink stations. The course is lined with mooing cows, chewing sheep, horses, a wonderful camel, flying crows, chirping birds, a couple of emus and complete serenity in rural NSW. Marathon runners will also witness a phenomenal sunrise.
The marathon does have approximately 4km of unsealed undulating gravel road which is corrugated in some areas. For runners with a little off-road experience it will pay dividends. Race flats can also slip a little on this section. Another 2km past the gravel and the 21.1km turn is reached and athletes turn and head back to the start. The return is when the rolling undulating road can take its toll on the weary marathon legs.
The event is highly organised with bib collection available from the start/finish precinct on the Saturday and prior to race start on the Sunday. The same volunteers look after gear during the race. Electronic timing is positioned throughout the course and drink stations containing both water and electrolyte are positioned every 4 kilometers.
Accommodation for all budgets are found in and around Orange from farm stays, Airbnb, hotels and motels. Driving from Sydney or Canberra so visitors have a car and can explore and support the small towns enroute is recommended; but there is a small regional airport which receives flights from REX airlines and Qantaslink are due to begin operations into Orange from May 2020.
Orange is known for its fruit (not oranges) and wine produce, with many vineyards close to town offering very generous wine tastings. Orange is fabulous. Great town, great environment, and a wonderful running festival. Definitely a must see destination for the whole family runners and non runners alike.
Written by: Bonnie Davies