A guide to running the Queenstown Marathon

It is only days now until the annual Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon - New Zealand (and arguably one of the world’s) most scenic marathons. Where else can you run through scenes from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, past jet boats zooming along raging white water rivers, alongside award winning wineries, and through one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world (Millbrook). With that sort of buildup we are excited to bring you our little guide to running the Queenstown Marathon.

The course runs from the tree lined lane on The Avenue at Millbrook Resort to the quaint and historical Arrowtown (through Malaghans Road; Manse Road; Surrey Street; Villiers Street and Buckingham Street) before heading down to the Shooter River where it crosses over the Old Shotover Bridge before winding it’s way all the way around the Twin Rivers trail (Shotover River and Kawarau River) and the Frankton Track to end in the very middle of Queenstown in the Recreation Grounds.

There is no doubt - even in the minds of those that live there, it is a most beautiful course - along rivers, or easy off-road trails and with the peaks of the Remarkables towering over you. On winning the race and setting a new women’s course record British runner Hannah Oldroyd said: “I would have finished earlier if I hadn’t stopped to take some photos of amazing nature. I’ve been traveling across continents, but I’ve never seen such a beautiful nature”.

Of course, the marathon is a difficult and serious competition that requires a long physical preparation. As a rule, many runners underestimate both their body temperature and how hot it can get by mid-morning in Queenstown and dress too warm. Starting early in Arrowtown at 400 meters above sea level can feel quite cold - however, within the first 30 - 45 minutes most are actually starting to overheat. A little insiders tip - if you haven’t already, grab some of the new fangled seamless running kit to avoid the chaffing as you heat up during the day. It depends on the day of course, but Queenstown can be in to the mid twenties at the time of the year by later morning after being at less than 10 degrees when you start out.

One of the things that makes the Queenstown Marathon so highly regarded is the shear number of volunteers and locals scattered all the way along the course. There are drinks and food available nearly all the way around the course. We recommend you begin to drink water from 4 kilometres - drinking only a few sips at a time to avoid cramps or the dreaded stitch. Some runners will drink energy drinks on the second half of the course. Bananas, dried dates and apricots, and of course power bars make for good food on the run.

That’s it - you are ready to run, you can analyze the entire distance and develop a strategy as much as you want - but all that is left is really to get out there and put one foot in front of the other. Meat, eggs and cottage cheese are all favourites to eat on the Friday. Pin that number of your T-shirt, tie the result recording chip to the laces, check, double check, one last toilet stop and run. Do not forget to give your support crew the dry clothes that you wear after the finish. There are heaps of activities around the area including beer tents, BBQs and of course Queenstown itself. Do not forget sunglasses and a cap.

finish line queenstown marathon

The finish line at the Queenstown Marathon

There is a real holiday atmosphere around the event, so relax, take your time and remember it is a bloody long way!!! If you start alone, find a partner who runs at that pace too. The say the Queenstown Marathon is flat - hmm, one friend described it as always nipping away at you, just small little hills that continually eat away at your energy. Most agree the first half of the marathon is the most difficult, so enjoy the beautiful landscapes, lakes and mountains to not think about the distance.

Queenstown is a magnificent alpine resort, considered the capital of extreme tourism. Visiting this beautiful city, once you have finished the run take the opportunity to taste some of the amazing cuisines at the high variety of bars and restaurants, or how about a stretch out with and adrenaline activity like Bungy Jumping. The Queenstown Marathon is one of the busiest weekends of the year here so best of luck in making some new friends and for many running a new distance.