Six interns from the University of Canberra joined our other volunteers at the Canberra Walking Festival. Many thanks to all our volunteers and walkers — we couldn’t have done it without you!
A wonderful weekend was spent in Canberra at the Walking Festival (CWF) by some walkers from the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Our walks in the CWF were wonderful and we all hope to be back next year. We have seen parts of Canberra we would not have otherwise seen — the Botanical Gardens were great and walking around the lake was wonderful. There were 18 of us, some first-timers, walking 5km, 10km and 21km. All having a great time. Thanks to the organisers and volunteers for a really enjoyable weekend — even the weather was perfect.
Our usual walk is from Coalcliff to Scarborough Pub across the Seacliff Bridge. And what a walk it is, running parallel to the ocean we see dolphins, whales, sea eagles and we’ve even spotted a seal. Our group comprises anyone who wants to walk, no invitation is required, you just turn up. We walk to Wollongong a couple of times each year and often to Austinmer for a coffee and muffin — sometimes a swim along the way. We have built strong friendships and seen each other through good times and bad. We extend our walking days to include other social get-togethers. Walking together keeps us physically fit and socially active as it always includes coffee.
The 2018 Canberra Walking Festival is doing something new with the half marathon this year. We have split the Saturday marathon route into two equal halves, so you will get the opportunity to chose to do either the first half or the second half of the marathon route. This then creates a dilemma for 21km walkers: which route to choose? Here are a few comments on each option to help you decide:
Early option/first half of the marathon:
- starts at 7:40am immediately after the marathon (or if you are walking with a marathoner you could start at 7:30am), so you will finish nice and early
- in addition to Lake Burley Griffin, the route goes through the Jerrabomberra Wetlands, around the Carillon (Aspen Island) and includes some of the memorials along Anzac Parade
- for those who have walked the 21km distance in previous years, you will cover new territory in 2018
- the route includes some gravel, grass and boardwalk trail sections
Later option/second half of the marathon:
- starts at 9:30am, so your will not have to get up so early (some of the faster marathon walkers may catch you up)
- the route go down Weston Park and Black Mountain Peninsula, which have not been included in recent years
- the route is more straightforward and is solely on shared use paths – if you find the paths too hard on your feet you can opt to walk on the grass or dirt verge in most areas
The overall difficulty of both options is fairly similar. The early option has 96m of climb across the route, and the late option has 151m of climb, but the extra 55m of climb is negligible over 21km.
So the choice is yours. Do you want to start early or late? If you are a repeat walker, do you want something a little different? We think that both routes are lovely, with the likelihood of spotting kangaroos on either option (at the end of the Wetlands section on the early route, and in Western Park on the late route).
This is the first year we have offered a choice for 21km walkers on Saturday, so let us know what you think. Should we continue this option in future years?
An important note: there is also a 21km option on Sunday. This is a point to point walk, and we bus you out to the start of the walk. The bus leaves the Albert Hall at 9am for all 21km walkers.
Editorial note: This option is being offered again in 2019, but the late starters will depart a little later (at 10am) to better align with the marathoners who are coming through.
Should I, could I or can I walk a marathon? And what is the Canberra Walking Festival marathon like? These are questions we are frequently asked.
A marathon is 42.2km or 26.2 miles, which is an awfully long way, even when driving! Nevertheless, completing a marathon is on many people’s bucket list, and it is certainly achievable with prior preparation.
The Canberra Walking Festival offers the opportunity to complete a marathon in a non-competitive environment, with friendly walkers from around the world. These are some of the things you should know if you are considering the marathon distance at the 2018 Canberra Walking Festival:
- You do need to prepare yourself for the distance. We have a suggested training program that you may wish to use. This takes up to 18 weeks, depending on your prior fitness level, so if you haven’t prepared yourself by now, you probably need to think about next year’s marathon!
- No marathon is easy, but the 2018 marathon is the easiest marathon course we have offered in the 12 year history of the event, whereas the 2017 marathon was the hardest:
2018: 42.2km with 249m of ascent over the route, but no significant climbs
2017: 44km (so longer than a true marathon) and 687m of ascent, including 4 significant climbs across the route.
- The marathon route has a variety of surfaces, but is mostly on shared use paths around Lake Burley Griffin. You will explore a few new areas that we have not covered in past years on any route.
- All walkers are asked to finish by 4pm, primarily so that our checkpoint volunteers finish in a reasonable time. This gives you 8.5 hours.
- The 2018 marathon is in two halves, and you return to the Albert Hall at the mid-way point. This offers a few new options this year:
There is a cut-off for the first half. You need to complete this by 11:45am.
You can collect something for lunch before starting the second half of the marathon course – there are limited opportunities for food along the second half of the course.
Walkers entering the half-marathon have the option of walking the first half of the marathon (early start) or second half of the marathon (later start).
- At 11:45am our sweep walker will start walking the second half of the course and removing the route signs and closing down the checkpoints, so you will not be able to continue if you get to the half way point after this time.
- If you miss the cut-off time to continue (or if you choose to stop at the half way point), you will be given credit for walking a half marathon.
- When you finish the marathon, you will get a special medal to commemorate your achievement. And if you come back on Sunday to walk any distance you will also earn the 2018 two day walker medal. (Note: IML walkers need to complete minimum qualifying distances on both days for the IML stamp – see IML page for further details).
More information about walking at the 2018 Canberra Walking Festival will be sent to all registered walkers prior to the festival weekend, and this information will also be posted on the Canberra Walking Festival page on the website. If you have any questions about the marathon, please feel free to post a comment below.
This article was written shortly before Martin completed his 5th Canberra Walking Festival event in 2016.
Dr.Martin Fryer is well known in the running community in Canberra, Australia and internationally, particularly in the ultramarathon arena. Martin has run over 100 ultramarathons since 1997 with highlights including wins at the Commonwealth 24 Hour Championships (UK, 2009: 255K), the Surgères 48 Hour Race (France, 2009, 433K), and the Sri Chinmoy 6 Day (2011: 784K) and 10 Day Races (2013: 1158K) in New York. In 2012 he set an age group (M50) World Record, running more than 247K on a 400m track in 24 hours in Taipei, Taiwan. More recently (June to August 2015), he finished in second place in the inaugural Tour de France footrace, in which he covered 2800K in 43 days without any rest days (equivalent to roughly 66 marathons).
Given Martin’s background, the organisers of the Canberra Walking Festival were a little surprised to see that Martin had entered their event for the first time in 2012 and has been participating every year since then. Naturally he entered the longest distances available each day, completing the marathon on the Saturday, followed by a 30km walk on Sunday. As might be expected, he has been the first to finish each year, although the event is not timed, and there are no prizes for coming first.
Martin is not the only runner who has walked in the Canberra Walking Festival, but we were interested to find out a little more about what attracted Martin to this event, and what keeps him coming back.
How did you first find out about the Canberra Walking Festival and why did you decide to participate?
I first found out about the Canberra Walking Festival in 2012 when I was doing an internet search for local road walking groups and/or events. The reason for that search was that I had incorporated walking into my ultramarathon training program since my first 24 Hour race in 2004 and was now looking for some social and structured way to continue that kind of training. When I saw that the Canberra Walking Festival had a full marathon walk on the Saturday followed by a 30K walk on the Sunday I knew that I had found a wonderful, challenging way of getting in two long back-to-back hard walks that would not only boost my walking strength and fitness but also give me a whole weekend of touring around Canberra’s superb paths and trails that I love so much.
How does a walking event of this nature compare to some of the other multi day running events you have completed?
The degree of challenge has been relatively high for me each year as I do the 42K/30K double without any prior long, hard, structured walking in preparation, so it is a matter of just winging it and using the event as a solid walk training block. The walking that I do in my normal training is usually in short bursts of 1 to 3 minutes interspersed between running periods that are roughly 3 to 5 times the walk duration. Quite a lot of this walking is also done on uneven trails rather than nice smooth bike paths, so the Canberra Walking Festival allows me to include some lovely long stretches of smooth surface in which I can get a good rhythm going. The overall difficulty is nothing like a multiday event where nutrition, hydration and trying to get sleep and recovery are major concerns. Therefore, my aim in the Canberra Two Day Walk is to push myself hard as I can. I do wake up very sore on the Sunday morning (following the previous day’s marathon) with tight hips and sore shins but normally these issues settle out after a bit of a warm up.
What sort of pace do you aim for when walking?
For the Canberra Two Day Walk I had no goal pace in the first year but now I roughly aim for somewhere between 8:00 and 8:30 min/K average pace for the marathon (5h45-6h) on the Saturday and a little faster on the Sunday.
What type of walking do you prefer?
I actually like a wide variety of locations, surfaces and terrains though if I was pushed I would say that my favourites involve long, steady climbs on non-technical bush tracks in the Brindabella Mountains and Namadgi National Park (ACT) that culminate in amazing views. I have no training in racewalking technique so I guess that I have some kind of fitness walking style?
The rules of the Canberra Walking Festival specify “no running”. Do you find it difficult complying with this rule?
Not at all. The whole point of participating in these events for me is to walk and to strengthen some of those different muscle groups and tendons that are different to running, so I have no temptation at all to start running. In fact, in 2012 I followed up my Canberra Two Day Walks with a 24 Hour Walk at Coburg in April. Walking form is strictly observed at this event and I managed to cover 152 km in my first attempt, making me vow to go back one day and get the 100 miles with some proper training!
You also train other novice ultra runners and I recall you saying that you include walking as part of their training programs.
Walking is an absolutely critical part of the programs that I prepare for my ultramarathon squad, whether they are a novice or an experienced World class athlete. Most runners that I prescribe walking to know that it is in their best interests for high performance when I show them my results and other high performers in the squad (a few members of my squad were part of the Silver Medal Mens Team at the World 24H running Championships in 2015), but ultimately they quickly find out for themselves that it is not only a nice change, but they can cover long training distances with considerably less stress on the body.
The training sessions that I prescribe range from very long run/walks at a given time or distance ratio through to occasional pure power walks done for 45 to 90 min at maximum effort. There are so many advantages to being able to walk well for ultra-endurance athletes: it allows a change of muscle groups and a lowering of heart rate, it allows short breaks to take in food and drink without the bouncing of running, it is low impact, it works runners in a low aerobic fat burning zone, and it allows runners to do very long run/walks that allow faster recovery than pure runs and thus not interfere with the rest of the weekly program.
Why would you recommend the Canberra Walking Festival to other runners?
For all of the reasons described above: excellent low end aerobic training, superb courses and scenery, great organisation, meeting walkers from all around the world, very modest entry fees, great food from the local Scout groups at the end, and more than anything- getting out of your running comfort zone and doing something completely different! I should also point out that runners do not need to push themselves to complete the longest distances available on each of the two days. For example, a 5km parkrunner might choose to walk 10-11km on each day, and still find that to be an enjoyable but still challenging experience.
Please enjoy this article written by one of our 2017 University of Canberra interns, Georgia Niedermeier.
Across two days, over the first weekend in April, 2017, more than 400 registered walkers took on various sections of the Canberra Centenary Trail for the annual Canberra Walking Festival. The festival is an event for all ages that undeniably lives up to that title. The youngest walker was 5 years old and the eldest, 92! Age did not hold the walkers back, with the 92-year-old returning from Saturday’s 5km walk before anyone else. The event boasted walkers from all over Australia as well as Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Korea, Vietnam and Czech Republic. Walks ranging from 5km to the huge 44km marathon were available to choose from. Most walkers participated in walks on both Saturday and Sunday, managing to pry themselves out of bed for an second big day of walking through the Nation’s Capital.
The event has been running for 26 years and there are some who have participated from the get go. I had the absolute pleasure of being involved in this year’s event, as a University of Canberra intern, and took the time to talk with some walkers about why they love the festival. The most telling responses were generated by the question Why do you keep coming back? I was met with many incredulous looks, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’. The event is full of smiling faces, triumphant walkers, enthusiastic volunteers and an overall positive vibe. Why wouldn’t you come back?
Why do they return though? One couple from Sydney has made the trip to Canberra 21 times. They love the event and think Canberra is a beautiful place to walk and stay on for a post festival bike ride. Canberra is a wonderful location and this year’s use of the Centenary Trail exhibited some of Canberra’s best offerings. One local voiced her love of Canberra’s history. She believes walking through it is one of the best ways to absorb all the city has to offer. Other responses centred around challenge, incentive, and sense of achievement, but the resounding consensus was that the community is one you want to be a part of.
The walk is great exposure for Canberra as a tourist destination, with the trails taking walkers past some of Canberra’s tourism hubs. Some international walkers took the opportunity to stop in at the War Memorial during their walks while others were happy just ticking ‘see a kangaroo’ off their bucket list. Entrants up early on Sunday saw hot air balloons adorn the sky and walkers passing the Carillon around midday were treated to a recital.
For those after a little more incentive and reward, the Canberra Walking Festival is a member event of The IML Walking Association. IML encourages walking around the world, with awards on offer for completing walks in multiple countries.
This is not a competitive event, you do not have to be the fastest, strongest or fittest to feel the sense of victory that every walker exuded upon return to home base. After experiencing the event for myself I hope to see it grow and continue for years to come. It is a fantastic event full of wonderful people from all walks of life.
“After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value.”
— George Macauley Trevelyan
This year we will have a variety of catering options for you:
As usual, the Badimara Scouts will provide a variety of sandwiches, hot food, soft drinks and snacks. Their Price List is attached.
Did you know you can put in a sandwich order for the following day’s walk? For those walkers doing the marathon, or the late start half-marathon, on Saturday, you may wish to consider putting in an lunch food order with the Scouts on Friday afternoon. They will then prepare lunch for you to take with you in the morning. Alternatively, marathoners can order in the morning, to collect when returning through the Control Centre (Albert Hall) at the mid-way point of the marathon. Please note that there are no readily accessible food outlets on the western basin route.
Nellie’s Cafe and Bar (coffee van) will also be providing coffee ($3.50/$4.50), tea ($3.50) and milkshakes ($4) over the weekend. Feel free to bring your own reusable keep cup if you want to make a small contribution to the environment.
In the afternoons we will also have beer and wine available for purchase at $5 each, for consumption at the Control Centre. Any profits from the bar will be donated to the Heart Foundation.
We look forward to seeing you at the event.
You are invited to participate in the 27th Canberra Walking Festival!
Enter online at bit.ly/cwf2018.
The Canberra Walking Festival is a non-competitive event open to everyone.
We hope you will join us. Note that we have a new start location for 2018 at the Albert Hall.
Registering online and early will ensure that you receive the best possible entry price (payment by Visa, Mastercard or PayPal), and also go into the draw for early bird prizes.
Online Entry Fees:
Child Under 10: $10 (for one or two days)
Child 10-17 years: $20 (for one or two days)
Adult: $25 (one day)
Adult Super EarlyBird: $35 (for two day entries received by end of November)
Adult EarlyBird: $40 (for two day entries received by end January)
Adult: $45 (standard online two day entry rate)
Entry fees are non-refundable.
On the Day Entries (cash only):
$25 per day for all participants, regardless of age.
Available at the Control Centre, located at: Albert Hall, 100 Commonwealth Ave – next to Hyatt Hotel.
Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the starting time of your desired participation distance.
Please note that bus transport to the start of the walks on Sunday is not guaranteed for “on the day” registrations, and will be subject to space availability.
The event aims to:
- promote walking as a worthwhile, fun activity;
- encourage people to participate in an enjoyable, healthy, outdoor activity regardless of fitness, age, gender or background;
- challenge those who wish to test their fitness, and/or obtain an award.
The Canberra Walking Festival is a not-for-profit event, run entirely by volunteers. A portion of all entry fees is donated to community organisations, including the Heart Foundation.
Walk Options – A variety of walk options to showcase the best of Canberra.
Pre-Festival Guided Walks
Thursday 5th April 9.30am, Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura, 15km on the Centenary Trail with Walking For Pleasure – starts and finishes at the Australian War Memorial (outside Poppy’s cafe). $5 for IVV stamp for non-WFP members – payable on the day.
Friday 6th April 11am, Capital Walk, 11km – starts and finishes at the Control Centre for the Festival, returning in time for the Welcome Walk and official opening. $5 for IVV stamp – payable on the day.
Friday 6th April 3pm, Welcome Walk, 5km – explore the Parliamentary Triangle in small groups followed by the official opening ceremony and reception. $5 per person, includes reception and IVV stamp.
Canberra Walking Festival Self-Guided Walks
Saturday 7th April – Distance options are 5km, 11km, 21km and 42.2km. Entry includes event support, IVV stamp, and marathon medal for those finishing the marathon.
Sunday 8th April – Distance options are 5km, 10km, 21km and 26km. Entry includes event support, IVV stamp, IML stamp for those completing the required distance on Sat and Sun, and Canberra Two Day Walk medal for those walking any distance on both Sat and Sun.
On Saturday and Sunday the start times vary depending on your chosen distance – full details on the Canberra Walking Festival page. Free bus is provided to the start of your chosen walk distance on Sunday, so it is important that you arrive in time to catch the bus!
Floriade is on again in Canberra, and is celebrating its 30th birthday. This means that the Heart Foundation early bird walks are also on again, where you get the opportunity to complete a 45 minute walk around Floriade before the gates open to the general public. The walks are free, but a donation to the Heart Foundation is always appreciated – a collection tin is available at the walk.
Floriade early bird walks start at 8am each Monday-Saturday of Floriade, which runs from 16 September to 15 October 2017. There are no early bird walks on Sunday. Each walk is approximately 2.5km. A number of AussieWalk and Walking For Pleasure members are assisting as volunteers to lead these walks, and we would love to see you there.
In particular, mark your calendars for these dates, when AussieWalk/Walking For Pleasure has a scheduled walk immediately following the earlybird walk:
Saturday 23rd Sep: complete the early bird walk then a lap of the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin.
Saturday 14th Oct: complete the early bird walk then a walk along Anzac Parade past the memorials, including two new memorials since we last walked here.
We meet near the crossing on Commonwealth Avenue – see the blue flower on the map below. Arrive 5-10min early to sign in, so you are ready to start the walk at 8am.
The AussieWalk website has had a major overhaul to make it easier to read on multiple platforms. We’ve also updated the site with all the information about the new national AussieWalk IVV organisation. We invite you to have a look around and let us know what you think. You can make comments below (first select the “leave a comment” link above to open the comment box), or on our AussieWalk Facebook page, or via email. You can also sign up to our news emails on our Contact page.
We expect there will be a few gremlins as we get accustomed to the new technology, so if you experience any problems with the new site please let us know.