With more and more Sydneysiders signing up for 10km and half-marathons this year, it’s only a small(ish) jump to start training for an endurance race. There’s tonnes out there to choose, so to get the inside word on which ones are worth training for, we asked ultra-endurance runner, Ben Lucas. He’s run 35 marathons and 5 ultras in the space of 5 years, so he knows what he’s talking about.
In my opinion, getting into running is one of the best hobbies you can have. For starters, there are over 400 running events put on around Australia alone, not to mention all of the incredible courses that you could be completing around the world. Therefore signing up to a running event not only gives you something to train for, but it also provides you with yet another opportunity to travel. I got into running after my NRL career as I needed something to motivate me and now I have a crew that I train through my studio Flow Athletic. In my experience, here are the top 5 inspiring courses worldwide you should be training for right now:
Great Wall of China Marathon
This marathon started in 1999 and each year there are over 2, 500 runners from over 60 nations that race. The Great Wall of China marathon is widely considered to be the worlds most challenging, and let me tell you, it was no easy feat! In fact, there are 5, 164 steps that need to be completed in this one. If you don’t want to complete the full marathon, there is also a half and 8.5K fun run option. Expect it to be an arduous course, however the views are amazing and there is a really festive atmosphere. The route goes through the lower valley, into the villages and then of course, onto the wall. The event is in May and it’s usually around 30 degrees, so make sure you dress appropriately!
This is one of the biggest and most entertaining events that you can do. I have run the New York Marathon three times now and I love how there are around 2 million people lining the streets cheering you on, over 50, 000 runners participating and 120 bands along the way! I found that it was really cold in the morning when we started, so bring layers that you can throw away in one of their Good Will bins.
Sydney Running Festival
Sydney’s very own famous running festival, this is one of the most picturesque tracks that you can ever run on, so if you live in Australia, and especially if you live in Sydney, you should sign up for it at least once! The morning is usually cold so once again layer up. Expect to have a nice run over the bridge and through the city. It’s a super pretty track! If you don’t want to run the marathon there is also the option for a half marathon, 9km bridge run and, of course, the 3.5KM family run/ walk. For more on there race, read these insider tips for the race.
Northface 100 (now the Ultra-Trail Australia)
The North Face 100, as in 100km, is a huge test both mentally and physically. The scenic but brutal track goes through the Blue Mountains and it’s an epic trail run that has quickly become one of the most talked about events of its kind. Make sure you train for at least three months prior to doing this event. In fact, I would give myself nine months if I were to do it again. It is arduous and it definitely hurts!
Gold Coast Marathon
Another picturesque event that is right on our doorstep, The Gold Coast Marathon keeps growing in size every year. The weather is usually nice and it is a good flat run, so a great race for anyone starting out. I like to introduce my clients to this event if they are running a marathon for the first time, as it’s friendly and doable.
Happy running all! Hope this has inspired you to sign up to one of my favourite events!
Ben Lucas has been in the fitness industry for 16 years, is the founder of Flow Athletic and Flow After Dark, and is also the Rebel Insider for running season. He was formerly an NRL player for the Sharks before he started running marathons and ultra marathons. Ben trains the likes of Erin Holland, Cassie Howarth, Monique Wright, Edi Barthomew.