10 places to run yourself fit

Gluttony and excess. If you woke up to those two little thoughts on January 1, then it’s time to “tourunism.”  That, my friend, means setting the alarm clock, putting on the trainers, and combining some of Queensland’s most scenic backdrops with a magical dash.  Morning or night, it’s a sure-fire way to get the blood pumping and stop that third serving of Pavlova going straight to the hips!

I’ve run plenty of tracks along the Queensland coast over the last few years and these are the best. Find your destination, download the track onto your watch or phone and head off for a run to remember.

1. Brisbane River

City life doesn’t have to mean thumping robotically on a treadmill staring at the jubbly bits in a nameless and shameless mirror. Nope, Queensland’s capital is dotted with landscaped paths and pedestrian-only bridges ideal for a run.

My favourite city loop takes in the best parts of the Brisbane River. Start at the Botanical Gardens, zip across the Goodwill Bridge and cut through the bustle of South Bank, crossing the iconic Story Bridge and ending at Eagle Street Pier. If you set out at sunrise or sunset the city is bathed in a glorious golden light the entire 9 km loop.

2. Surfers Paradise

If you want to know what it’s like to be a local, then join the throng of fitness freaks who make it their religion to walk, jog or cycle the 42km stretch of Gold Coast beach paths at sunrise.  Witnessing the first hint of orange as it peeps through the horizon gives me the warm fuzzies every time!

To notch it up a bit, I like to take my running off road and hit the sand. Tracking north from Surfers Paradise, jog along the golden sands towards the Sheraton Mirage passing lifeguard towers, runners, yoga-gurus and dog walkers.

3. Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast

It’s easy to get away from the bustle of Hastings Street – and the world – with this eclectic beach and bush trail through the Noosa National Park. The view from Noosa Heads looks back across the surf to the town and is the location of many a proposal…something to think about if you’re there with your better half!

4. University of Queensland

Further upstream at St Lucia, the beautiful grounds of Queensland’s oldest university are flanked on two sides by the great serpentine river. If the additional 5 km run from the city is too much, then jump on a City Cat ferry bound for the “Uni” and start from there.

Run down Jacaranda avenues past the Rowing Club and Athletic’s stadium before crossing the Green Bridge and turning onto the Brisbane Corso, a popular route for all fitness lovers, especially cyclists, from sunrise to sunset.

5. Airlie Beach

The purpose-built boardwalk in the hub of the Whitsundays stretches from the Port of Airlie north to Cannonvale Beach passing the sailing club, Abell Point Marina and finishing with a view out to the islands. Don’t forget to wear your swimmers under your kit for a refreshing dip in the free Airlie Beach saltwater lagoon at the end. Or just kick off the boots and dive in!

6. Passage Peak, Hamilton Island

For moments of clarity during the Best Job in the World final I’d disappear and leave the world behind with what has to be one of my favourite trail runs – Hamilton Island Resort to the heights of Passage Peak.

A pre-sunrise departure through the native bush past scurrying deer and wallabies to the final few steep steps will reward you with panoramic 360 degree views of the 74 Whitsunday islands. There aren’t many better views in the world.

7. Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island plays host to a gruelling adventure race every April called Adventurethon. An epic navigation around and over the island, this one takes the pros 7 hours…. or for me closer to 10! To read about that adventure click here 

For a more sedate way to take in the bays and beaches of magical Magnetic Island, set off from BASE Backpackers and follow the shoreline to the Forts summit.

8. Castle Hill

There are two running tracks I love in Townsville Castle Hill and The Strand. Both are a runner’s mecca. The first offers a gruelling incline up the Goat Track with the views to Magnetic Island, the other winds through the beachfront parkland past exercise zones to either the saltwater ocean pool at one end, or Tobruk Pool at the other.

9. Cairns Promenade

To test your endurance, follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of hopefuls along Australia’s only full Ironman event track. It’s a must do every time I visit of Cairns. But a word of warning, this one is best done at sunrise or sunset when the sting of humidity has subsided.

Follow the track around the marina and spot luxury super-yachts with their jet-set owners, past the lagoon beach with hundreds of chilling backpackers and onto the boardwalk where locals throw cast-nets to gather their bait-fish.

10. Mount Coot-tha – Brisbane

Only 20 minutes drive from Brisbane’s CBD lies the gum tree-lined slopes of Mount Coot-tha. It’s an outdoor-lovers paradise with tracks and trails criss-crossing streams and waterfalls in summer. Whatever time of year you arrive, the view of the city from the summit observation deck is spectacular and a just reward for the steep climb through the forest.

You can find out more about Mt Coot-tha and what to do there in my earlier blog.