When it comes to running, Samantha Gash has reached rock star level as the first Australian woman to complete the Four Deserts Grandslam – four 250km ultramarathons in the hottest, coldest, driest and windiest deserts on earth. Samantha also nailed a 3253km 77-day run across India raising money for education programs in her host country. Now she’s preparing for Run Melbourne, one of Australia’s most iconic winter sporting festivals, chalking up its 10th anniversary on Sunday, July 30. During that decade, more than 175,000 Run Melbourne participants have raised $12 million for more than 400 charities. There’s still time to train for the event, and here are Samantha’s top five places to go for a run in and around Melbourne.
- Tree Fern Gully Track, Tremont
- The iconic and challenging 1000 steps gets the heart pumping from the moment you begin. This very hilly trail will mean you’ll likely have to transition between running and power hiking. The trail is surrounded by tall trees and overhanging ferns. It is a beautiful part of the Dandenong Ranges to explore on foot.
- Fairfield, Victoria
- There is a great 10km loop along the Yarra that goes through bushland and past the Collingwood Children’s Farm and Abbortsford Convent. It’s a great running trail because it’s easily accessible and located so close to the city. It includes a rocky single-lane track as you enter the trail for a couple of kilometres, and the second half of the loop is on the pavement beside the Yarra River.
- Royal Parade, Carlton North
- Princes Park has a 3.2km track around a couple of sporting ovals that regularly have games being played on them at night time. There’s virtually no elevation gain so it is a great spot to do interval training or time trials.
- Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra
- Probably the best known running track in Melbourne, the Tan stretches over 3.8km, but the run can be extended to more than 5kms if you choose to run along the Yarra River before heading back up Anderson Street. It is a running haven for groups from 6am, during lunchtime and after work. If you choose to run up Anderson Street it is the steepest section of the loop, but the rest of the run is slightly downhill. Lots of people will use Anderson Hill to do hill repeats. The track is lit up so in winter you can run there in the morning without a head torch.
Beach Road track
- Beach Road, bayside
- The Bay Trail hugs the sandy eastern coastline of Port Phillip Bay for almost 50km from Port Melbourne to Seaford, but the dirt track alongside Beach Road really sets you up well to do your long runs as it goes for a long way. As you are running along the coast it can be very windy but the views are a beaut distraction when you start to get in the hurt locker.