In a city of yoga studios and crossfit cults, when you think of Sydney, running may not be the first activity that comes to mind. However, whether it’s a supplement to your luxury gym membership or your number one hobby, Sydney has a lot to offer runners.
Lace up and give ’em a read.
Spit To Manly
An undulating bush trail, this Sydney classic takes you along Middle Harbour, providing spectacular views of the national park (and ocean) as make your way to Manly beach. Once you get there you can either run back, or reward yourself with a melted chocolate indulgence from Max Brenner (or an ice cold brew from Four Pines), before getting the bus or ferry to wherever you need to go. The only downside: it’s so popular you might have to dodge a few walkers.
Length: 17.9km (return)
Palm Beach Lighthouse
Short and sweet, this loop is for those who like a steep climb, and who are able to wake up early enough to avoid the crowds of walkers and selfie snapping tourists. If you go at peak time there will be too many people for you to enjoy the narrow sections of the path, however the spectacular views over Palm Beach and Barrenjoey (and a coffee from the boathouse) make this circuit a worthy inclusion in any runner’s training arsenal.
Iron Cove is Sydney’s inner west’s favoured early morning route. More urban than scenic, you can start wherever you like and follow the crowds on this flat, fast loop with nice views of the cove as you go. Locals say the 7km distance is, “Perfect for benchmarking a tempo run (1 or 2 laps) or as part of marathon training (4 laps).” Also, it’s best to start where there is parking, such as King George’s Park on the south side.
Harbour Bridge To Opera House (Via Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair)
Even if you are not a tourist, this is one of the best runs in Sydney. Offering views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House, you start under the Harbour Bridge (city side) following the water around Circular Quay, Opera House, and then around the Botanical Gardens before reaching the turn around point at Mrs. Maquarie’s Chair. A quintessential Sydney run, it’s hard to find a more spectacular route anywhere in the world. Just mind the eels, who have made themselves at home in the Botanical Garden ponds…
Bondi To Coogee
City to Surf’s non identical sibling, Bondi to Coogee is a difficult but rewarding run, that provides those who dare with spectacular views of a number of Sydney’s most iconic beaches. The route is hilly, and well provisioned with water stations, rest stops and cafes. And unlike the City to Surf, this route doesn’t require a city-wide disruption of traffic, so you can do it any day of the year.
Length: 15.3 (return)
Lane Cove National Park
One of Sydney’s best kept secrets, this run consists of a hilly road that goes deep into Lane Cove National Park. The ‘out and back’ course is just under 10km, starting at the Delhi Road bridge on Chatswood West, where street parking is available. Expect rolling hills and a particularly steep ascent at the 4km mark, before the turnaround point. Enjoy!
A reasonably short North Shore classic, the Cremorne Point route enables you to enjoy picturesque views as you run over gently rolling hills, which provide good shade for most of the way. Park your car anywhere around Hodgson Ave and head down to the footpath to reach the start point.
Queenscliff To Shelly
This is one of the shorter runs on the list, but definitely one of the most enjoyable. Start at the Queenscliff surf club (the northernmost corner of the beach) and run along the beachfront until you get to Manly surf club. On your way there are a number of poles which are great markers for interval training—sprint then jog (or walk), and repeat—and also a fair few bubblers, so no need to lug a water bottle around with you. Once you get to the Manly surf club turn left and follow the path round to Shelly beach, passing a number of cafes (and a sea pool) on your way. Once there you can either enjoy the marine reserve, or head back to Queenscliff and sprint up the stairs to get that heart rate up one more time.
Elevation: 10m (20 if you include the stairs)
A flat 3.7km loop around Grand Drive, this Centennial Park route gives you the option of running on asphalt or grass. For the athletically gifted/ambitious it’s a piece of cake to extend the length of your run through various detours in the park. And for the thirsty newbies—there are multiple bubblers on route, and parking is easy to find.