Sydney running routes
So much has changed on the west side of the CBD in recent years, and it’s well worth exploring on foot. Take the outer edge of Barangaroo Reserve for views of ferries buzzing in and out of the harbour plus the ultra-modern skyscrapers in the city. Then, pass the cafés of Walsh Bay (running up and down the jetties if you want those extra Ks) and head along Circular Quay towards Australia’s most famous landmark.
The routes from Manly to North Head and Spit Junction take the headlines, but there’s another route that’s just as special: start from the beautiful Shelly Beach and hug the shore, making your way along the world renowned Manly Beach. Climb the stairs at Queenscliff, dodge the waves on Freshwater Beach and navigate the subsequent boardwalk with the ocean waves crashing below. You finish at Curl Curl – one of Sydney’s most underappreciated beaches.
You know a run must be good when it forms the basis of an annual race, and that’s the case with the Iron Cove Bay loop – also known as the Bay Run. You’re never more than 20 metres from the water on this pleasingly flat route and almost the entire route is safely separated from road traffic. Give it a few practice laps and then test your mettle against the Inner West’s finest fun runners in the annual race every August.
If you live out west, you’ll know all about Parramatta Lakes, so why not mix it up a little by following the Parramatta River south-east towards Olympic Park? Starting at Parramatta Park, you’ll get to take in the views of Blaxland Riverside Park and Wentworth Common before arriving at the scene of some of Australia’s greatest international sporting triumphs, before a quick lap of Bicentennial Park sets you up for the jog back.
The south-west has its fair share of running routes but if it’s scenic views you’re after, Chipping Norton Lake is the place to go. Famous for the variety of aquatic birds in the vicinity, you get the privilege of circling 120 acres of pristine lake. You’ll want to keep an eye out, too; while you’re certain to spot our feathered friends, back in 2016 fishermen reported spotting a dolphin in the waters.
The Bondi to Coogee walk might be the Eastern Suburbs’ most famous trail, but head further south for a route that’s a lot quieter but no less spectacular. From the southern end of Maroubra Beach, there are a range of trails taking you to the edge of the headland at Boora Point where you can stop for an oceanview selfie before cruising down to Malabar Beach.
It might be challenging, but this 10km jaunt around the North Shore’s most famous national park is well worth the effort, even if the elevation is slightly daunting at times. Start at the Chatswood end where parking is plentiful, follow the river until you reach the A3, then double back before finishing at Fullers Bridge. The abundance of local wildlife will make you forget you’re not that far from the middle of the city.
It wasn’t until 2015 that the final bridge was installed, creating a loop around this gorgeous lagoon. If you’ve ever driven through Narabeen, you’ll have spotted paddle boarders and kayakers on the water, but there’s plenty to do on dry land too. In just over eight kilometres of track, you’ll pass through Bilarong Reserve, the bushland of Jamieson Park and across wooden boardwalks, all whilst never being too far from the water’s edge.
There can’t be many city centre beaches that give you the chance to watch planes taking off and landing. But once you head north towards Kyeemagh, there are footpaths and grassy areas all the way along Cooks River, giving you the perfect opportunity to explore. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you could make it to Strathfield.
At the northern end of Rose Bay is the Hermitage Foreshore Walk. Its combination of stairs and uneven rock platforms means it’s not the easiest terrain (though still runnable) and it comes with a handful of hidden beaches and coastline views of Sydney CBD. Once you’ve completed the Foreshore Walk, sweep down into Vaucluse, where you can stickybeak at all those opulent houses before finishing up at Watson’s Bay.
Why not enter a race?
Sydney has a few major running festivals every year, with full marathons and more managable 5k and 10k stretches around the city. Some are more suited to competitive types and others are all about the finish-line party.