Melbourne Marathon Festival

Melbourne Marathon FestivalThe Melbourne Marathon Festival is one of Australia’s biggest public sporting events.

ERunning offers a large selection of Customized Running Programs and Online Running Programs for athletes of all levels looking to complete and compete in the Melbourne Marathon Festival and its supporting events.

Melbourne Marathon – The story so far

In the late seventies and early 80s, most major cities decided to follow in the successful footsteps of Boston and host a marathon. With milk drink Big M sponsoring it, Melbourne staged its first marathon in 1978 on a course that began in Frankston, headed up Nepean Highway and finished outside the Melbourne Town Hall. The first race director was Ted Paulin, a former star middle distance runner. Over 2000 runners took part in the inaugural event with most catching a special early morning train to Frankston. The race quickly went through a boom period with more than 6000 entrants in 1983 – the year that Robert de Castella won the world marathon championship in Helsinki. But as with many events in the southern hemisphere, the race struggled through the 1990’s before a massive upsurge in interest in 2007. Now owned by IMG, the race has become the biggest marathon in Australia with a record 6218 completing the course in 2012 and more than 35,000 entries across the four accompanying events – The Flight Centre Half Marathon, The Coffee Club 10km and the Asics 5.7km run and 3km walk events.

Inaugural winners 1978 

  • Bill Scott – an Olympic 10,000m finalist
  • Elizabeth Hassell – went on to become the first Australian woman to break 2:40.

Most wins – three

  • 1990 Commonwealth Games 5000m gold medallist Andrew Lloyd won the event three times from 1979-81 when he was the Fun Run King.
  • The only female to win the event three times is Victorian Sherryn Rhodes, who won in 1998, 2002 and 2005.

Race records

Both records were set in cool, windless conditions in 2010.

  • Women: 2:32.20: Mulu Seboka (Ethiopia). At the 10km mark she was on 2:25 pace. Her time took 67 seconds off the previous record held by three-time Olympian Susan Hobson, who won the Melbourne race in 2:33.27 in 1999.
  • Men: 2:11.04: Japhet Kipkorir  (Kenya). The cattle farmer knocked four seconds off the previous best time set by four-time Boston marathon winner Bill Rodgers to win the 2010 event in 2:11.04. It was only his second marathon with his first a blister-affected 2hr30min effort in Stockholm. American Rodgers was 35 when he won the race in 1982 and road a rare tailwind from Frankston into the Arts Centre.

Most Wheelchair wins

  • Ian Gainey and Brendon Milgate have own the race four times.

Fastest wheelchair time

  • 1995 Brendon Milgate 1:41.07.

Melbourne Marathon Age gp records:

  • 40-44: 2010 Rowan Walker 2:18.01, 1999 Sue Hobson 2:33.27
  • 45-49: 1982 Bill Raimond 2:25.51, 1997 Colleen Stephens 2:51.01
  • 50-54: 2009 Michael McIntyre 2:31.30, 1990 Margaret Ellis-Smith 3:12.14
  • 55-59: 2009 Ron Peters 2:37.27, 1984 Jean Albury 3:09.14
  • 60-64: 2002 Clive Henderson 2:47.40, 1992 Shirley Young 3:27.40
  • 65-69: 1996 Bill Page 3:12.38, 2007 Melody-Anne Schulz 3:38.38
  • 70-74: 1995 Randall Hughes 3:09.00, 2001 Shirley Young 4:03.52
  • 75-79: 2009 Barry Boston 4:37.04, 2006 Shirley Young 4:36.46
  • 80-84: 2009 Anthony Martin 5:14.20.
  • Half records: Male: 2007 Brett Cartwright 63.02. Female: 2011 Jess Trengove 72.37

Oldest winners

  • Essendon’s Michael McIntyre (2:25.04 in 1999) was 41.
  • Hong Kong’s Winnie Ng (2:47.37 in 1994) was 41yrs 10 months, three months older than Susan Hobson.

Youngest winners

  • Sydney’s Andrew Lloyd (2:26.44 in 1979) was 20.
  • Tracey Newton (2:48.32 in 1997) was 21.

Course route 

  • 1978: The first Melbourne Marathon started in Frankston and went directly up Nepean Hwy to St Kilda Rd with the finish in front of the Melbourne Town Hall.
  • 1982: The course started in Frankston, but used Beach Rd, finishing at the Arts Centre.
  • 1992: The marathon started at Olympic Park and finished at the Arts Centre after a loop.
  • 1996: The marathon started and finished at Albert Park.
  • 2000: The course reverted to Frankston start with finish at Albert Park Lake.
  • 2005: The finish line was moved back in front of the Arts Centre.
  • 2007: The course started in Wellington Parade Sth and finished inside MCG after heading out to Sandringham.
  • 2008: The start was moved to Batman Avenue.
  • 2009: Birdwood Avenue (Botanical Gardens) was added to the course and Kerferd Rd removed for residential access reasons. Brighton’s Golden Mile was dropped with the new turnaround at Elwood.
  • 2010-2013: No significant changes have taken place.


The Melbourne Marathon has had nine different major sponsors in its 35 years.

  • St George is the first bank to get behind the event as naming rights sponsor.
  • The first naming rights sponsor, Big M, lasted from 1978 to 1985.
  • Others include: Budget 1986-1989, Qantas 1990-94, Vic Health 1995 and 1997, City of Melbourne 1998-1999, Asics 2000-2005, Samsung 2006-2008, St George (Bank of Melbourne) 2009-2011, Medibank 2012-2013

Race/event directors

There have been five race/event directors, although a board of management took control during the City of Melbourne sponsorship period.

  • Ted Paulin 1978-1993
  • John Mallinder 1994-1999
  • Joe Murphy 2000-2005
  • Dallas O’Brien 2006-2009
  • Greg Hooton 2010-2013

Number of competitors

  • Since moving the course to a finish inside the MCG In 2007, the Melbourne Marathon has regained its status as the premier marathon in Australia. In 2012 the race was the largest marathon in Australian history both in terms of entries (7127) and finishers (6218).
  • There were 123 women who ran in the first event in 1978. In 2012, there were 1764 female finishers, including a record 22 women breaking three hours.
  • More than 10,000 runners took part in Melbourne’s half marathon event last year and close to 10,000 runners entered the 10km event, swelling overall race entries to just over 35,000..

Previous biggest Australian marathon by finishers

  • 2012 Melbourne 6218
  • 2012 Gold Coast 5118
  • 2010 Melbourne 5026
  • 2011 Melbourne 4956

For more information regarding the Melbourne Marathon Festival you can click HERE.