‘Big risk’ pays off as inaugural Ballarat Marathon attracts thousands of runners

‘Big risk’ pays off as inaugural Ballarat Marathon attracts thousands of runners
‘Big risk’ pays off as inaugural Ballarat Marathon attracts thousands of runners

Thousands of people have donned their trainers in search of a runners’ high for the inaugural Ballarat Marathon in regional Victoria.

With nearly half of all participants coming from more than 100 kilometres away from Ballarat, including from overseas, the event has been heralded as a success.

There were 4,700 final registrations across the two-day event through the country streets north-west of Melbourne.

The Ballarat Marathon featured races of 1 mile (1.6km), 5km, 10km, half marathon (21.1km) and full marathon (42.2km) , as well as a wheelchair 10km.

Of the total registrations, 3,000 were for the half or full marathon on Sunday.

Thousands of runners participated in the half and full Ballarat Marathon.(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

A crisp Ballarat autumnal morning wasn’t enough to deter the thousands of runners, or hundreds of cheering onlookers. 

A total of 27 teams participated in raising funds for 201 charities, raising more than $100,000, which beat their goal of $90,000.

‘Big risk’ pays off

Event manager Adam McNicol said the idea to hold the marathon was born when he and a mate were jogging in the city three years ago, and wondered if they could run a marathon.

He said it felt ambitious as large marathon events were typically held in capital cities, but the idea seems to have paid off.

“I think we are going to have one of the most beautiful marathon courses on offer of anywhere in Australia,” Mr McNicol said.

“I think that is a key thing as to why the response has been so great.”

A group of people behind a starting line

Runners participating in the half and full Ballarat Marathon take their places.(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

Mr McNicol admitted building the event from the ground up was a “big risk”, but he was delighted at the outcome.

“We know a lot of the accommodation in Ballarat is almost booked out,” he said.

“[We] have people coming from every capital city, even New Zealand, Singapore, a few from Europe and a couple from North America.

“The feedback from the businesses has been really positive.”

Running popularity climbs

Race director, Olympian and legacy marathon runner Steve Moneghetti was at the starting line Sunday morning to see off the runners.

Mr Moneghetti said a resurgence of run clubs and casual running had “absolutely” contributed to the healthy number of registrations.

“You used to say that cycling was the new golf, now we’re saying recreational running’s the new cycling,” he said.

“People are coming to it in droves and really enjoying it.

“It’s not only the social side of it, but the mental side as well.”

An older man in a high vis shirt running in a pack of competitors along a Ballarat street.

David McPhail of the group Rural Australians for Refugees participates in the Ballarat Marathon.(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

Those sentiments were echoed by Ballarat local Gareth Prosser, who joined in the 10km run on Sunday morning.

“The sport of running, not competitively … I enjoy the cathartic nature of it,” Mr Prosser said.

“You’re zoning out … [you] listen to yourself. I find it a nice bit of ‘me’ time before I get into my day.”

The regular runner said the number of participants who signed up across the two days was an “amazing thing”.

“10km is around my normal running distance,” he said.

“I was thinking that I might’ve done the half marathon … but I couldn’t quite get my act together for this one.”

“[The full marathon] is a long way. Halfway to Melbourne!”

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Source: abc.net.au

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