When I'm heading on a holiday or for a weekend away I never leave home without my running shoes. Going for a run on your holiday is a great way to explore the local area, soak up scenic backdrops and burn-off the previous night's food and wine.
But what if running was the holiday? By this I mean you plan a trip around a running event or a destination with drop-dead gorgeous trails.
That's the idea behind 'runcations' or 'tourunism' and besides the obvious benefits of a holiday they are a great way to do that race that's on your bucket list. Before you spend time searching for your next running holiday, I've done the heavy lifting for you with a list of the best places in Australia for a runcation.
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Running Festival held in April comprises an ultra marathon, marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5km runs around Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle. Run past iconic attractions and take in Australia's capital city during its most stunning time, autumn.
The Lake Burley Griffin bridge to bridge loop is an easy run 4.86km taking you past the International Flag display, National Gallery of Australia and National Library of Australia with views up to Parliament House.
The 14km Mount Ainslie trail run is great for summer running as it's shaded by trees and has rolling hills. Start behind the Australian War Memorial or alternately tackle the uphill 2.6km summit run on a sealed track.
New South Wales
Described as one of the most scenic and spectacular courses in Australia, the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival happens on 21 September. With four exciting events to choose from, each gives participants the opportunity to 'Run the Bridge' traffic free, and take in the city's spectacular and historic landmarks.
The Sydney harbour loop: Iron Cove will have your blood pumping with its 7km Bay Run Loop that takes in the sights of riverside Rozelle, Haberfield, Five Dock and Russell Lea. The route is mostly flat and includes running across the Iron Cove Bridge. An official Bay Run race happens in August each year if you want to get competitive.
The gorgeous country town of Carcoar (3.5 hours west of Sydney) hosts the annual Carcoar Cup Running Festival on 5 & 6 November where runners can test their endurance in a 60km ultra, marathon, half marathon and a 6km dash.
The slick Dubbo Stampede is a load of fun as runners get to race past the thousands of animals in Dubbo's Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Held in August in the heart of regional New South Wales, runners that enter one of the four events including the 42.2km Rhino Rumble get free entry to the zoo.
The Red Centre is home to a great running event – the Run Larapinta Stage Race. Held in August, the four-day, trail running race has two courses and follows the most spectacular sections of the iconic Larapinta Trail, which is one of Australia's most spectacular walking trails that traverses an iconic 223km route from the Historic Telegraph Station at Alice Springs to the lofty summit of Mt Sonder in the MacDonnell Ranges.
A trip to Brisbane wouldn't be complete without a run along the Brisbane River. For a 9km city loop start at the Botanic Gardens, cross the Goodwill Bridge and cut through the bustle of South Bank, crossing the iconic Story Bridge and end at Eagle Street Pier.
Get your Gold Coast on by running the Surfers to Main Beach 5km course on either the footpath or sand or enter one of the four events at the world-renowned Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
Whether you take it at a shuffling pace or accept the challenge to run the 8km course in Porcupine Gorge, the setting is truly spectacular. The gorge is located an hour's drive from Hughenden in north-west Queensland.
Lace-up for Australia's first and only 250km running race set in the Simpson Desert. In July each year the outback town of Birdsville comes alive during the Big Red Run where competitors race 40kms a day through blistering heat, stomp through sinking sand and camp out at night in freezing winter conditions. Multiple events are available, ranging from the main 250km event to a smaller 42km desert dash.
The Yurrebilla Trail is a 56km ultra trail marathon held on 25 September. The course winds its way through a series of National Parks and Conservation Reserves under the Mt Lofty summit, as it makes its way across the western face of the Adelaide Hills.
Marion Coastal Trail is a stunning 8km route that starts from Brighton Jetty and winds up and down stairs, past public art and along cliff top boardwalks to the middle of Hallet Cove and back again.
I haven't met a runner yet that doesn't like chocolate, so why not mix the two by entering one of the five events on offer in the Cadbury Marathon including a half marathon and 10km.
The Tassie Trail Fest held over three days in March is everything you could ever dream of if you want to gorge yourself on wilderness running, including plenty of distances for all capabilities, fern-fringed landscapes that will blow your mind and sweeping routes that will blow your legs. This is pure, raw Tasmanian running at its best.
Puffing Billy is Australia's oldest and best-preserved steam trains, operating just 45 minutes from Melbourne. Once a year The Great Train Race gives competitors the chance to take on the locomotive over a 13.5km course through the hills and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges from Belgrave to Emerald Lake Park.
Head for the hills, fill your lungs with fresh alpine air and hit the trails running when you like at a pace you like. The 7 Peaks Run is a range of 21 colour-coded runs covering more than 200km through the 7 Peaks of Victoria's alpine region, with a trail to suit every level of fitness and experience.
The Australian Adventure Festival held from 21-23 October has four runs to choose from including a 10km and 55km trail run along the Mitchell River Walking Track in East Gippsland. Witness jaw dropping river scenery, serene rainforest gullies and rugged landscapes in this extraordinary National Park.
Now in its 42nd year, Perth's Chevron City to Surf Activ Marathon has become the second largest officially timed race in the Southern Hemisphere with more than 50,000 participants taking part in the series each year.
The 7km Scarborough-Trigg Heritage Trail has three different stages that provide contrasts in scenery - from being close to the shore to views over the ocean and a bushland setting.
The 45km long Wadjemup Bidi Running Trails at Rottnest Island traverses the island's unique landscapes including spectacular coastal headlands, environmentally significant landmarks and stunning inland lakes.
Have we missed any spectacular Australian runcations? Let Laura know in the Comments section.
The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.
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