I have lived on the Gold Coast for 30 years and have run over every terrain, over every hill, and across every course within it. Running was a hobby, then a challenge, then a competition, then a goal, then a release, then it was a horror and then it finally became a hobby again. It takes you away on a journey every time you set out on foot. It is safe to say that running was the main reason I started my Physiotherapy profession. Whatever reason you may run, we always need a great place to do it. I am often asked by patients what the best places to run are and after much deliberation and thought these are my top 5 places on the Gold Coast:
1. Coombabah Lakeland reserve.
This place is fantastic under foot with soft surfaces and slow winding bends and only one very small hill. It is great for the beginner and has a large loop of ~4-6 km with different add on loops if required.
I personally love the feeling of being secluded away from any roads or hustle and bustle. The run takes you under a large canopy of trees and surrounds you with your favourite animals including hundreds of kangaroos. It is definitely my favourite.
2. Nerang Conservation Bushland
This course is not for the feint hearted. It is a lot tougher and I would expect each runner to have completed 4-6 weeks training before tackling this one (~60km weeks).
It is however a very close second on my list and takes you over some of the most toughest hills on the Gold Coast but at the same time spoils you with breathtaking views. I can spend 2 hours out here just running at a slow tempo but be prepared for the heart rate to fluctuate. The terrain is uneasy and can be a little unpredictable but it keeps you alert. I would expect each runner to have very supportive footwear and start slowly and build up a healthy duration with one run per week.
3. Fleays wildlife park
This run includes burleigh heads and takes you over some moderate hills but a firmer surface. As the name suggests you will run into some fantastic wildlife which hands down makes this an exhilarating experience. The views are second to none.
A faster course due to the firmer surface, I would normally use this location for a faster Fartlek type run or some hill repetitions up the burleigh hill.
4. Main beach to the Spit
I have lived in main beach for the past 2 years and have started to know this course very well. It has epic views over the ocean plus towards the Broadwater an hinterland. It is also a great course for the beginner as is undulating but an out and back course so can choose your distance. It can be a little treacherous under foot with rocks, solid dirt and then sand but again keeps the runner focused and alert. I would recommend beginners to avoid the sand.
5. Musgrave Hill Park
With so many possibilities to try and fit into the top 5 this was a tough choice. But having lived on the back of this park for most of my life, it wins hands down. It may be an odd choice for some with only a small 2km loop but this trail is exceptional for the kiddies and Fartlek type sessions.
The track is predominantly grass with a bit of gravel so is very good under foot, preventing overload and use injuries. It also escapes from roads for half of the loop giving a sense of seclusion. A great place but not sure about this eye sore.