2019 Great Barrier Reef Marathon deferred for restructure


The iconic Tropical Journeys Great Barrier Reef Marathon will not go ahead in 2019 to enable it to host the finale of  the new national Run for the Reef events in 2020.

The new direction will see the marathon rebranded as the Great Barrier Reef Running Festival and held in May 2020. 

The Run for the Reef City Run was piloted in Cairns, Townsville, and Mackay in 2017 and plans to expand to 20 cities were proposed soon after their success.

The City Run events will see competitors from across the nation running simultaneously in towns all over Australia in March next year. 

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Live leaderboards will allow spectators and runners in each town to see where they place against competitors at other events around the country.

The top three runners from each city will then travel to Port Douglas in May and compete in a Champions Race as part of the Great Barrier Reef Running Festival.

Event organiser, Port Douglas Event Management (PDEM), is planning to host the finale of the City Run events in Port Douglas at the Great Barrier Reef Running Festival in May each year. 

Participating City Run cities include Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Canberra, Wollongong, Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, Ballarat, Launceston, Hobart and other major regional Australian cities.

PDEM is seeking support from the Federal Government, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to facilitate the expansion.

The Great Barrier Reef Running Festival will continue to be geared towards the Run for the Reef Initiative and raising money for research and programs to protect and rejuvenate the Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef Running Festival Director, Sam Cullen, said the idea of bringing the benefits of running a City Run in 20 cities back to Port Douglas has been in the works for about five years.

"We will be heavily promoting Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef across the country at the March events"

Mr Cullen said he understands cutting the event this year will cause upset among the marathon’s supporters.

"The runners have been the backbone of the event success. We sincerely hope they come with us and understand our aims."

“We understand the passion of our runners for our existing event, but believe it is time to aim higher in terms of potential outcomes as the new model will be far more sustainable than the original." he said. 

“Along with our partners we are looking forward to this next ambitious step we truly believe the Run for the Reef Initiative through the City Run and Great Barrier Reef Running Festival events can expand the message to embrace the whole nation.”

As the event grows and more cities and people are involved in the events, PDEM are hopeful to increase fundraising to new heights.

“If we are able to create 100 events in 2022, we estimate fundraising can reach $1m per year from runner registrations alone,” Mr Cullen said.

Full details on the final plans for Run for the Reef 2020 will be available to all stakeholders and participants later in 2019.

Visit the Great Barrier Reef Marathon website for updates as the year progresses. 


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