IF you were going to run a grueling 40+ km road race, then rugged coastline, untouched natural beauty and Australia’s renowned bouncing marsupial would surely be the perfect distractions.
For Race Director Nathan Godfrey the ‘run with the roos’ event is the culmination of his personal and business passions.
“I’ve experienced adventure running in other countries, as part of my own goal of running seven marathons on seven continents,” said Godfrey.
“After living in Adelaide for several years, I wanted to start an iconic destination marathon in South Australia.”
The marathon begins and ends at the Flinders Chase National Park Visitors Centre at the western end of Kangaroo Island. The full course takes in the Remarkable Rocks, the lighthouse at Cape DeCouedic and the Admirals Arch environs.
Nathan chose the wild beauty and physical challenges of an isolated coastal marathon course – including a nasty 4 per cent incline as runners approach the finish line – with a specific tourism sector in mind: the adventure traveller.
Growth in the adventure travel market has accelerated at 65 per cent a year since 2009 according to a 2014 study. Tourists – mainly from Europe and the Americas – spent more than US$345 billion on adventure travel in 2012.
“Globally, the active holiday market is a growth industry driven mainly by the baby boomers who are retiring – they are health-oriented, have high disposable income and want to travel with a goal in mind,” said Godfrey.
Word about The Kangaroo Island Marathon has spread fast.
“For the inaugural Kangaroo Island Marathon we have international registrations from the US, Singapore and New Zealand,” Godfrey said.
Simon Maister is travelling from Wellington, New Zealand to take part.
Having completed 15 marathons around the globe, the 36-year-old signed up quite simply for a new adventure.
“The course looks interesting and I’ve never been to that part of the world before,” said Maister.
“It increases the travel experience, being part of an event and around other people who like the same stuff as you.”
An Olympic rower in her younger days, South Australian physiotherapist Tory Toogood will also compete at the Kangaroo Island Marathon.
As well as competing locally, Tory is an experienced adventure traveller. She’s run the Great Wall of China, Mt Kilimanjaro and even won The Antarctica Marathon.
“The idea that I can go to different places and run and see the world, that blows my mind!” she said.
When she headed to run Mt Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania, Tory took her family.
“My kids did the 5km event, I did the marathon, and then we stayed and went on safari,” she said.
It’s the sort of experience that Godfrey is planning for Kangaroo Island.
Starting in 2016, the Kangaroo Island Marathon will offer 5 day/6 night immersive tour packages as part of registration.
“Next year, we also hope to offer a 50+km ultramarathon event around Flinders Chase National Park, once construction of the new walking trail is completed in June 2016,” said Nathan.
“I believe the Kangaroo Island Marathon will leave runners with memories they'll never ever forget.”
The Kangaroo Island Marathon is supported by The Government of South Australia Regional Events and Festivals Program, as well as partners Tourism Kangaroo Island, Sealink and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
Nathan Godfrey, Race Director