23 Aug 2021
Updated September 2022
Running has always been one of the best ways to combine physical fitness with the great outdoors.
Road and trail running events are a great way to stay motivated, become part of a community and build up your trophy cabinet. They’re also perfect for discovering Australia’s amazing national parks, forests, deserts and coastlines.
If you're into running, use this state-by-state list of some of Australia’s best road running and trail events to plan your next outdoor adventure.
READ ALSO: 13 National Parks You Don't Want to Miss
Trail Running Events in Queensland
Previously called Run The Great Whitsunday Trail, this event includes 3 distances.
The full 58km ultramarathon course takes you from the finish line to the start line and back, starting at Airlie Beach Lagoon and heading toward Brandy Creek before returning to Airlie Beach. The 28km is one way from Brandy Creek to Airlie Beach.
Village Green, Paluma, near Townsville
The Paluma Village Trail Run starts and finishes at the village green in the Paluma township, north west of Townsville.
There is an array of trails around the village crossing creek, passing waterfalls and lookouts. Paluma is cooler than the coastal region and it makes for great trail running during October. There is a 6km short course, 10km intermediate course, and 20km long course.
Enogerra Reservoir, The Gap
This iconic trail running event starts and finishes at Gold Creek Reservoir, Brookfield, an entry point to Brisbane's momentous trail network.
Including open fire-trails, narrow and single-track trails that traverse eucalypt woodlands and lush subtropical rainforest, this event offers all levels of competitors a challenge and the full experience of trail running close to the city!
D'Aguilar National Park, Brisbane
In honour of the Kokoda Spirit, this 48km, 30km & 18km event winds through some of Brisbane's toughest terrain.
The track undulates through natural green scenery west of Brisbane Forest Park. Starting at Brookfield Showgrounds, make your way to the checkpoint at McAfee's Lookout before returning to the showgrounds via the subtropical rainforest of D'Aguilar National Park, reminiscent of the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea!
Case Park, Horshoe Bay Road, Bowen
The scenery on this trail run includes stunning beaches and rocky headlands with views to the Whitsunday Islands.
The course includes several technical trail sections with steep climbs and fast descents.
The MSF Sugar Great Pyramid Race is an extremely tough event that takes place outside Cairns every year.
Essentially a race up Walsh’s Pyramid, the whole thing began with a wager between two cane farmers over who could run up the 922m peak the fastest! The full distance is only 12km end to end but the terrain and elevation make this a challenge even for experienced runners.
Trail Running Events in South Australia
Belair National Park
This is a well-known event among the SA trail community.
Never more than 12km from Adelaide’s CBD, the entire run offers stunning views, amazing gorges, waterfalls and loads of wildlife. Check out experienced international runner David Byrne's review of the event here.
READ ALSO: 10 Iconic Hikes you can reach from our parks
The Heysen has quickly become an iconic trail running event that traverses a 115km section of the 1200km-long Heysen Trail.
Runners can experience the best of trail running conditions across distances from 11km up to the full 115km. Multiple national parks form the course with abundant wildlife and wide open spaces making this a truly Australian experience.
Cobblers Creek Recreation Park
Cobbler Creek offers three distances (25k, 16k and 10k) along single track that includes plenty of fast, easy sections and moderate elevation.
Watch for ‘roos as you climb Porosa Hill and enjoy views to the coast on the way back down past the old Teake ruins. A great way to explore Cobbler Creek National Park.
Belair National Park, Belair
Belair National Park is one of the country’s oldest national parks, established back in 1891!
A favourite for family picnics and outings with easy access via train trip up from the city, the park remains a thing of beauty with giant trees, historic pavilions and endless kilometres of stunning trails that make it the perfect setting for a trail marathon!
Port Augusta to Quorn
The Pichi Richi Marathon is a point to point road marathon celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2022.
The full marathon starts on the west side of Port Augusta and takes runners across the SpencerGulf, up through Pichi Richi Pass in the picturesque Flinders Ranges toward the Quorn Oval Complex.
Craigburn Road, Blackwood
The Sturt Gorge Trail Run incorporates the multi-use Craigburn Farm and Sturt Gorge trails.
There are three awesome courses, which take runners on beautifully designed and constructed single track, along river trails, and up high with fantastic views. There is magnificent scenery, beautifully designed and constructed trails featuring kangaroos, koalas, and birds.
The Mt Crawford Trail Challenge has four distances on broad tracks through the native woodlands and pine plantations of Mt. Crawford Forest.
Featuring magnificent scenery, beautifully designed trails, kangaroos, koalas and birds, the longer courses have expansive views from Mt. Pleasant summit, and the extra-long course visits Mt. Crawford summit.
Trail Running Events in Tasmania
With over 1,100m of elevation, and almost 1,000m descent over the final 5km, runners will need to conserve their energy for the end!
Tasman National Park
The Tasman Run is an 18km trail run from Tasman Arch to Fortescue Bay in Tasmania.
The event starts at the impressive coastal formations of Tasman Arch/Devils Kitchen and traverses the clifftops via Clemes Peak through to Fortescue Bay. Along the way be spoilt by spectacular views over Eaglehawk Neck to the north and Cape Hauy and the Candle Stick to the south.
The McGrath Launceston Running Festival, one of Tasmania's premiere running events, is back in 2022.
Distances include the half marathon, 10km, 5km and 1-mile run and walk for all ages and ambitions. The flat, fast and fresh course takes in many of Launceston's highlights.
Flinders Island is a special place to run. Beyond rolling farmland hills there’s a world of natural wonders to explore, from pristine coastline to the rugged mountain ranges of Strzelecki National Park.
Trail Running Events in Victoria
This is an iconic ultra-marathon event that takes place annually along Victoria’s most famous stretch of coastline and through a diverse range of incredible landscapes.
With distances of up to 100km available, runners can perform individually or as a team.
This 100 mile endurance run is like no other in the southern hemisphere.
Taking runners on a journey through the rugged and picturesque mountains of the Victorian Alps. Three distances of 28km, 50 and 100 miles are on offer for solo and team competitors.
Held on the picturesque Mornington Peninsula, the route takes runners along the esplanade from Mornington towards Mount Martha.
Set in one of Australia's most stunning courses, this is a unique experience to run or walk.
You Yangs Regional Park
Created to introduce all levels of runner to trails, this festival of running has grown to be a very popular course.
With fantastic winding trails, technical granite single tracks and steep climbs with steps, there's something for everyone. The distinctive granite peaks of the You Yangs rise from the flat volcanic plains between Melbourne and Geelong.
Set in the majestic mountains behind the seaside town of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road, this run offers scenic mountain trails with challenging single trails that pass multiple waterfalls on the longer distances.
Trail Running Events in New South Wales
The Rumble in the Jungle is a new trail run in Coffs Harbour with 50km, 30km and 15km courses to choose from.
Formerly known as The End Peak, the Rumble in the Jungle will take on a different course with waterfalls, lookouts and rainforest all on offer.
The Beach to Brother Running Festival offers competitors the chance to compete in the full marathon, a half-marathon, a 10km dash, a 5km fun run, or a team relay marathon finishing at the peak of North Brother Mountain in Dooragan National Park.
Hyde Park, Sydney
The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon will return to its world-famous course in 2022 for the 29th running of Australia’s largest and most iconic half marathon.
The 21.1km course showcases Sydney’s stunning landscape, including views of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, The Rocks and Pyrmont Peninsula.
This 48hr enduro is a beast, so don't expect much sleep!
Taking place at rotating locations on the NSW North Coast, teams of 4 can enter in one of three categories, Mixed (minimum 1 female), All-Female, or All-Male and you must finish the race with the number of team members you start with.
Teams choose the 110k or 220k course and have the option of racing "supported" and bringing one additional person as support crew (this person may not race) or racing "un-supported" and have the GeoQuest team handle logistics. Good Luck!
Cairncross State Forest, Port Macquarie
The Elephant Trail Race follows a 25 - 27km course, with approximately 1455m elevation per lap. The 217km & 100 mile distances start on Friday night and are 2 laps anti-clockwise, then changing direction every 2 laps.
Trail Running Events in Western Australia
Explore some of Western Australia’s finest trails through the forests of Dwellingup between Bunbury and Mandurrah.
Held in combination with the Dwellingup 100, WA’s premier 1-day 100km MTB event, there are 3 distances to choose from including a 6km doggie dash!
Run among the beautiful trails of the Bibbulmun Track in the Perth Hills where there are distances to suit all levels - solo and in teams.
Including the fantastic Darling Range jarrah forest and some of the area's local orchards, each 25km lap includes about 500 meters of elevation.
The Busselton Festival of Triathlon in Western Australia has fun runs, triathlons and includes the Busselton 100 long course triathlon.
The Busselton 100 includes a swim alongside the iconic Busselton Jetty, a ride through the Tuart Forest and a run along the Busselton Foreshore. There are also a range of festival events for upcoming athletes looking to kick start their running or triathlon careers!
The Sandalwood Sanctuary Kununurra Half Marathon is held on an off road 5.25km course at the Kununurra BMX Track.
There are entry options for solo runners (running the full 21.1km), teams of 2 (covering 10.5km each) and teams of 4 (covering 5.3km each).
Lake Argyle Resort
The Lake Argyle Adventure Race in East Kimberley, Western Australia has solo, team and junior adventure races.
The team adventure race can be entered as a relay team of 2, 3 or 4 members. The order of the adventure will be: swim, paddle, run, mountain bike - all conveniently transitioning from the Lake Argyle Resort.
Trail Running Events in Northern Territory
The iconic Larapinta Trail in the West McDonnell Ranges in Australia’s Red Centre is a bucket list hiking destination for thousands of people around the world.
This event gives ultra runners the chance to test themselves on 231km of spectacular single track in a new full length end to end, non-stop supported ultra event put on by the Alice Springs Running and Walking Club (ASRWC).
As well as the full length 231km ultra, there will be a 128km ultra marathon from Ellery Creek, a 65km from Standley Chasm, a 25km distance from Simpsons Gap and a family orientated fun run of around 5km, all finishing at the Historic Alice Springs Telegraph Station.
READ ALSO: Top Tips for Hiking the Larapinta Trail
Run Larapinta is a 4 day, 4 stage trail running race along the most spectacular sections of the iconic Larapinta Trail in Australia’s Northern Territory.
This race attracts trail runners from around Australia (and overseas) – from the recreational to the elite. You don’t need to be fast but you do need to be determined! An amazing location and an amazing race.
For more Australian trail running events near you, check out Running Calendar and remember to ensure that any event complies with the latest health advice.