Whether you’re only in Adelaide for a short visit or a true local who wants to start or go back to, living a more active lifestyle, you don’t have to go anywhere else to do just that.
Let Adelaide become your playground.
Some people may only think of Adelaide as South Australia’s capital or the ‘City of Churches’. But the fact that it has a more laid back culture than most other large cities like Sydney or Melbourne, and how spectacular the natural scenes around it are, makes it a gem for most running enthusiasts.
Running Adelaide trails will become a favourite hobby (and workout regimen) in no time at all. Maybe you’ll even be able to persuade some of your friends to join in your daily adventures.
If you don’t know how to begin, though, you’re in the right place. Read this post through to the end, and I can guarantee you’ll find everything you need to know about where to run, where to find like-minded individuals, and what the city has in store for active runners such as yourself.
Types of Runners
Before we get to all the good stuff, let me just ask this on thing first. Do you know which type of runner you are? Knowing which category you fall in can help you meet goals, whatever they may be, more efficiently.
If you belong in this group, you’re someone who is into running short distances more than longer ones. You dominate short and fast repeats. For example, 15-minute races or maybe faster.
You prefer speed workouts, and short races can tire you out but won’t exhaust you. You tend to avoid long runs, tempo runs, and marathons because those can take a lot out of you compared to a day of doing hard repetitions on the track.
If you can sprint fast running to the next base in baseball or softball or can jump high during basketball or volleyball games, you most likely fall in this category.
If you can’t relate to the first type or runner, perhaps you have a lot more stamina in you to join marathons.
Endurance runners can run longer distances and even find them invigorating. They find it challenging to get their legs to race faster, though, and short tracks will often leave them feeling deflated.
If in the past, you gravitated towards activities that require steady effort like cycling or swimming rather than racing to get to the next block with your childhood buds, you’re most likely an endurance runner.
Combo Runners are quite common. If you perform reasonably well in all types of workouts, be it short and fast or long and slow, you’re probably a Combo Runner.
But, even this type of runner will fall short in some races and lean towards being an Endurance buff or Speedster tendencies.
If you’re ever unsure which kind of runner you are, start with Combo Runner training. Then learn the type of runner you are as you go along, taking note of where you excel.
But, hey, you could be a casual runner, too, and not someone who seriously takes up running for the goal of running racing competitively. That’s all good. What’s more important is that you’re pursuing a healthy lifestyle and doing what you like to do.
Best Running Trails
– Adelaide is great for people who are new to running and for experienced runners. No matter if you enjoy short and sweet loops or long-distance running, Adelaide offers a fast variety of either.
The chances are high that anyone can quickly discover a shorter loop without detour extended by a neighbouring loop. So even if you don’t like to plan your run, you can rapidly decide on the length and difficulty of your course on the spot. A lot of routes, especially in the city or along the coast are flat but with the Adelaide Hills just a stone’s throw away, trail running is very accessible.
Running in The CBD
We have looked into a few popular trails below:
- Adelaide Park Lands Trail
The Parklands Trail is, in full, 18km long and surrounds not just the CBD but also includes North Adelaide. The North Adelaide loop is 9km, and the CBD Parklands loop is 12.5km long.It is a paved run with loads to see to keep motivated and plenty of water stations along the way.
- Victoria Park Loop
The Victoria Park Loop in the east parklands is not just a running trail but rather a fitness loop. The loop is 1.9km long and offers fitness stations with various outdoor equipment along the way.
- University Loop
There are a few popular trails to find surrounding the Torrens, ranging from 0.5km (Riverbank Loop) to 2.5km (Torrens Weir Loop) distances.You can quite easily combine the loops for an extended run. One popular route is the 2.2km University Loop between Mackinnon Parade and War Memorial Drive.
Running in the Adelaide Hills
If you’re an experienced runner who craves challenging and heavy workouts to go along with your runs, try running in the hills of Adelaide.
- Mount Lofty
Mount Lofty is popular to hike but have you ever thought about a new challenge and jogged it? What’s so attractive about this route is you can stop at the cafes around so you can reward yourself at the end of a jog or take a quick reviving break in the middle of the run.It can get bustling, though, especially on weekends so parking can be limited.
Best Nature Runs
For nature lovers who are also running enthusiasts, Adelaide also offers trails that will allow you to commune with nature while keeping fit.
- River Torrens Linear Park Trail
Linear Park path starts from the Adelaide Hills to Henley Beach. It’s 35km long, but you can begin at any section, being flatter towards the sea and steeper towards the hills. Most popular are the City Loops around the University and Railway Station areas.
- Coastal Park Trail
The total length of the Coastal Park Trail is about 70km, running from North Haven to Sellicks Beach. This route offers a variety of trail options and distances, with a great view out to the water. One well-known loop is Brighton to Glenelg and back, which is about 9km long. Further north, from Glenelg to West Beach you will add 4.7km or include Henley Beach after another 3.2km.
- Morialta Falls
Morialta is popular amongst trail runners. The Trail Runners Club has a popular 13.84km trail, and an 18km track mapped out starting from Norton Summit. Using this route will take you mostly along the Yurrebilla Trail and has plenty of lookouts to stop to take a breath, have a drink, and take a picture. For most enjoyable trail running, the pros at Trail Running SA strongly recommend to use an appropriate app with relevant maps, to make sure not to get lost.
- Patawalonga Lake
Also known as “Pat”, the Patawalonga Lake has, at times, a sharp smell to it due to stormwater and other environmental factors. But if this doesn’t keep you away, this trail is a beautiful 3.7km loop around the water system between Glenelg North and West Beach.
- West Lakes Loop
The West Lakes Loop is an easily accessible paved 5.8km loop north of the city. You can also extend your run on a whim to the nearby Coastal Trail.
- Sturt River Linear Park Trail
Named after the British explorer Charles Sturt, this trail leads from the west to the southeast located Warriparinga wetlands which is 7.4km long. You will pass playgrounds, parks, gardens and large open spaces, interrupted by a few road crossings in between.
Bike Paths and Running Trails
There are also trails you can share with cyclists, as Adelaide is also home to a significant number of bike enthusiasts.
- West Side Trail
The West Side Trail, a 10km-trail from Mile End to Glenelg follows the old railway connection. It is mostly off-road, just a few crossings and the last (or first) 2km to/from Glenelg are along roads. If you want more, a nice add-on from Glenelg is the Sturt River Linear Tail or Coastal Trail.
- Mike Turtur Bikeway
The Bikeway is a 9.6km trail along the tram between Glenelg and South Tce. It is a favourite of cyclists to commute to and from the city but is spacious enough to be shared. It includes a few road crossings, but it is an excellent return run or the tram to get back to where you started.
- Adelaide Airport Trail
The Airport Tail is about 9km long and consists of three different signed tails: the Anna Mears, Reece Jennings and Captain McKenna trail and leads around the airport. Parts of it are along significant roads, but these trails also have spots to stop and plane watch.
Running Clubs and Groups
Adelaide is a fantastic city for runners. Not just offering a variety of trails with different attractions, lengths, and difficulties, but also has various running clubs to share the enjoyment of running with others and make good friends along the way.
It is a not-for-profit organisation that has been supporting runners in SA for more than 40 years. SA Road Runners Club organises different running events that can serve as an excellent first step if you ever want to start or restart your running habit or want to prepare for a marathon with other like-minded people. They require a reasonable membership fee, which, in return, will give a reduced entry price for SARRC run events.
Its mission is “to give everyone a reason to run”. How wonderful is that?
Running SA features events and facilitates free running groups. The two main groups with several different organised runs throughout the week are WRRN and Adelaide Run Night.
WRRN, or Women’s Recreational Running Network, is an initiative to encourage women to run while creating a non-threatening environment. Run Night with Running SA is Tuesday evenings between 6 pm and 7 pm. It is not just for runners, but people who just want to walk are always welcome. Both groups are led by experienced coaches and welcome all different levels to sign up and join.
While the Adelaide Harriers Athletics Club accommodates a variety of runs, it has a strong focus on long-distance running. With the affiliation with Athletics SA, members have the opportunity to compete at state and national levels but welcome anyone who just wants to keep fit. A reasonable membership fee is required to take advantage of the facilities and coaching.
This group is a social running club and is especially suitable for staff and students of Adelaide University, who receive a huge discount of the membership. While it is non-competitive, the club takes part in a few fun runs throughout the year. Generally, the club meets twice per week in North Adelaide, and they have an event timetable on Facebook.
Adelaide Running Events
Adelaide and surrounding areas in SA offer a great variety of runs throughout the year. You can find anything from 4.5km fun runs up to 105km Ultra Marathons.
Up to 10 Kilometres
Casual runners may find themselves joining some of these short-distance running events across Adelaide just to bond with friends or enjoy a day of sweating it out.
- Dolphin Run
Early in the year, SARRC organised the Dolphin Run, a family-friendly 5km or 10km run on the Esplanade bike path in Semaphore. In an effort to include the whole family, children can enter the kids’ race after they announce the winners of the 5km and 10km.
- The Granite Island Run
You can also participate in the iconic Granite Island, a challenging 5.5km or 10.5km run usually held during the first quarter of the year. If you have been to Granite Island before, you’ll know that the field may include areas of gravel and rock, climbs and tram lines. They do close the horse tram during the race. Should you, for any reason, take longer than two hours, remember that it has the right of way.It is a family-friendly event where kids from the age of six can attend the shorter run while children from the age of 10 can run longer distances in the company of an adult.
- Glenelg Classic
The last fun run of this kind in the year is usually the Glenelg Classic. It is another SARRC-organised 5km or 10km run. The course follows the beautiful coastline leading south.
- Mother’s Day Classic – Adelaide
This fun run aims to raise funds for Breast Cancer research and awareness. They usually hold this simultaneously all over Australia. South Australia has four registered events this year, one each in Adelaide, Gawler, Mildura and Mount Gambier. The one in Adelaide offers a few different options to run or walk: 2.1km walk, 4.5km walk, 4.5km run, 7.4km walk, and 7.4km run.
Up to 25 Kilometres
These events are for more skilled runners who purposely train their mind and bodies before joining these long-distance marathons.
- The Bend Half Marathon
This marathon takes place typically towards the middle of the year at The Bend Grand Prix Circuit. It offers the Half Marathon category but also the 10km and 5km options. For the kids, they also organise a sprint or jogging event.
- The Great Southern Run Fest
This fun run held in Aldinga Bay towards the middle of the year offers the popular Half Marathon category but also a new 30km and a 5km and, still, the 10km option race. They also invite the kids to have a free run at the beach.
- Federation Ultra Trail
This event, typically held during the third quarter of the year, offers various distances including 12km, 25km, 50km, 75km, and 100km. Participants will be able to enjoy the event while breezing by the stunning Kinchina Conservation Park, seeing kangaroos and unique rock formations.
- City-Bay Fun Run
This fun run is arguably one of the most popular Fun Runs in Adelaide, now offering 3km, 6km, 12km and Half Marathon options in September. For a long time, this event tried to motivate everyone to participate in walking or running. With the newly-offered 3km run, they’ve given the whole family the chance to compete in this great event.
Up to 30 Kilometres
These long-distance events are suitable for highly-advanced runners, although there are also some categories created for children of varying age ranges.
- Greenbelt Challenge
The Greenbelt Challenge in July is a SARRC event. What started as Greenbelt Marathon is now called the Greenbelt Challenge due to the addition of different length courses. There is the 30km course, Half Marathon, 10km, 5km and a kids’ fun run.
- Wild Women on Top Adelaide Coastrek
This event will be held in Adelaide for the second time in September 2020. It is a fundraising event where each team consists of four members, and at least 50% have to be female. The raised funds go to Beyond Blue Foundation. It is a 30km or 60km track around the Fleurieu Peninsula and is, by no means, just a running event.
Up to 42.2 Kilometres
Prolific runners are the typical participants of these running events. However, the organisers of some of these events have also included children of specific age groups to join corresponding categories.
- Adelaide Marathon
The Adelaide Marathon is a SARRC event and takes place in late May. Other than the marathon distance, you might want to opt to run the Half Marathon, 10km or 5km race and kids may participate in the Popeye race.
- Tower Trail Run
This run usually takes place in June in Mount Gambier. Other than the Marathon, runners can also choose between a 56km, 21km, 10.5km and 5km run. Depending on the length of the event, more or lesser loops course around scenic locations of the region.
- Barossa Marathon
This marathon is a SARRC event and usually held in August. It offers the Half Marathon, 10km and 5km options. It’s a very scenic run through one of the wine regions in SA.
Up to 105 Kilometres
Also for prolific runners, these events are held throughout the scenic routes of Adelaide and neighbouring parts.
- Federation Ultra Trail
This trail is an excellent run in Monarto, offering 100km distance but also 12km and anything in between, that being 75km, 50km and 25km. This event is typically held in August and provides a unique challenge to increase distances, allowing runners to aim for longer distances every year. Kids can register for free!
- Heysen 105
The Ultra Runners South Australia organises the Heysen 105. As the name suggests, it’s a 105km run along a part of the beautiful Heysen Trail. There is also a 60km and a 37km option for this event.
Explore Adelaide by Staying Fit
South Australia offers a diversity of picturesque trails and runs. Whether it be along the beach, Heysen Trail or through the city, there is almost no limit! We have summarised several selections of different self-guided courses, running clubs to find like-minded people, and organised events. However, this is, by no means, a final list.
Both Adelaide and South Australia are a paradise for any hiker, walker, fun runner or ultra runner and anyone in between.
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