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 friends, means setting the alarm clock, putting on your 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 from going straight to the hips!
I’ve run plenty of tracks along the Queensland coast over the last few years, and these are by far some of 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 Botanic 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 9km loop.
2. University of Queensland, Brisbane
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 CityCat 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.
3. Surfers Paradise
If you want to know what it’s like to be a local, 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 enthusiasts and dog walkers.
4. Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast
It’s easy to get away from the bustle of Hastings Street 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!).
5. Airlie Beach
The purpose-built boardwalk at Airlie Beach 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 Lagoon at the end, or just kick off the boots and dive right on 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 on Hamilton Island with what has to be one of my favourite trail runs – from the Beach Club 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. Let’s just say there aren’t many better views in the world!
7. Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island plays host to a gruelling adventure race every year called Adventurethon. An epic navigation around and over the island, this one takes the pros seven 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 the island, set off from Base Backpackers and follow the shoreline to the summit of Forts Walk.
8. Castle Hill
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
Test your endurance and follow in the footsteps of hundreds of hopefuls along the Cairns Esplanade – a track forming part of the iconic Cairns IRONMAN event. It’s a must do every time I visit. 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 superyachts 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 baitfish.
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 crisscrossing 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.