< News and Updates

5 things you definitely won’t miss with our new course!

Running the Sydney Marathon this year? Be prepared for some major changes that’ll make you love our new course route the moment you step foot on it.

There are few marathons in the world with a course as stunning as the Sydney Marathon (we’d say none, but we’re biased). From running over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and speeding past the historic finger wharfs of Walsh Bay to climbing iconic Oxford Street and circling Centennial Parklands and racing through the spectacular Botanical Gardens and around Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. And did we mention the finish line? Dead smack back in the heart of the city at the world famous Sydney Opera House.

It’s hard to beat. You see, this year in conjunction with our candidacy as an Abbott World Marathon Major Race (cue applause), we have improved our famous marathon route and added some extra treats, just for you.

Why? Well, as Sydney Marathon Race Director Wayne Larden explains, it’s time for a change.

The original marathon course that we’ve been running for a number of years was set up to maximise the views for runners,” explains Larden. “It wasn’t set up to maximise the experience that people could enjoy, nor their own comfort. And that’s an important distinction for us as we look to qualify for the Majors over the next two years.”

The new course eliminates many of the previous “pain points”, he adds, so it flows better for runners and, as you would expect, many of the changes were based on feedback from runners and importantly set us up to build capacity with the expected growth as we move toward the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

“The new course offers a lot more nice, wide-open roadways, more accessibility and is easier to navigate, yet it still takes in all of Sydney’s key tourist icons,” Larden explains.

So, to keep you up to speed (see what we did there?) here’s our pick of the top five things you won’t miss while running our new course.

#1. Uneven board walk

In our previous course there were sections around Pyrmont and Jones Bay Wharf that featured hard  uneven boardwalks with some cobble stone sections. Not a runner’s best friend. Now those sections will be run primarily on the road, much to the relief of runners and wheelchair athletes. This is one of the changes that Larden says came from suggestions and comments from previous marathon runners and the World Marathon Majors assessors.

“Part of the feedback that we received about the course was that we really needed to look at these areas in terms of runners’ comfort, safety, and flow,” he says. “So now this section will definitely be more enjoyable.”

#2. The Park Street bridge

Previously the course took in Hyde Park but runners and wheelchair athletes had to navigate a temporary bridge over Park Street built to keep traffic flowing into and out of the CBD. It was not a good experience at all for participants and slowed things down.

“We had to construct that temporary bridge ourselves every year to keep traffic flowing into and out of the city via Park Street on the day,” explains Larden. “But this year, we’ve been given permission to close Park Street so we can remove that bridge altogether and take a new flatter, faster and more enjoyable route

Again, he adds, this should increase the comfort and speed of this year’s competitors as the bridge was narrow and could get congested, and it had a bounce to it which interrupted momentum and flow.

#3. Those 180-degree turns

Likewise runners will recall (with what we assume is dread) the number of 180-degree turns littered throughout the previous course. This year, they have been reduced, replaced with long stretches of road, broader turns, and wider course ways. It’s easier on your legs and your mindset.

“With those kinds of turns, runners have to do lots of stopping and changing direction, which is challenging at the best of times, especially when you’re tired,” explains Larden. “Wheelchair athletes literally have to stop all together to navigate a turn!”

#4 Challenging accessibility

If you’re a wheelchair athlete, you’ll know that in previous years competing in the marathon meant a lot of stopping, starting and challenging sections.

“Originally, the course certainly wasn’t set up with due consideration for accessibility,” he explains. “There were a number of sections that weren’t very friendly to wheelchair athletes like boardwalk sessions in Pyrmont, bumpy cobblestone areas, and lots of 180 degree turns. They made it very difficult to get around the track.”

From this year onwards, however, the Sydney Marathon has made accessibility a priority in everything from the course to the spectator experience. That’s something, Larden is keen to point out, that the team is passionate about. “Suggestions are welcome!” he adds.

#5 The congested run to the finish line

Don’t worry, the spectacular Sydney Opera House finish line is still there… But now, instead of a narrow and often congested run around Circular Quay, participants will come from the eastern side of the course down Macquarie Street. It’ll be wider, more accessible, and just as stunning (if not more.)

What to expect? A clear run down from Oxford Street, with a beautiful downhill run onto College Street past Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral, into the Royal Botanic Gardens and Lady Macquarie’s Chair, then straight down Macquarie Street to the open arms of the timing clocks at the Sydney Opera House.

“Now our finish line is a beautiful three-lane expressway, of sorts, down to the Sydney Opera House, where you can run at speed,” explains Larden. “There’ll be enough space to overtake and have a proper battle to the finish line.”

This also leaves much more room for spectators to line the final kilometre or so so they can cheer the runners on. This change, says Larden, is one of the biggest differences from last year and he predicts competitors will love it.

Larden also points out, there is no denying the fact that Sydney is a hilly city but we’ve done our best to find a balance between runner experience, capacity building for growth and speed. We believe overall the course should be comparable or faster than last year.

“Basically, it’s a much friendlier and faster course,” he says, summing it up. “And it’s going to be just as beautiful… if not more beautiful!”

Sign up for the latest Sydney Marathon updates