On the last Saturday of July, runners from six continents gather for a one-of-a-kind marathon experience. The Australian Outback Marathon is the only way to race across the red sands of the Australian desert with the iconic landmarks of Uluru and Kata Tjuta watching over you.

With full and half marathons along with 11-kilometre and six-kilometre fun runs, there’s a race for everyone from professional runners to beginners. It’s a relatively flat course with a mixture of sealed and unsealed surfaces, bush fire trails, and the earthy red sand the Australian Outback is famous for.

While running a marathon past Uluru is an unforgettable experience, getting there takes time, commitment, and training. Even if July feels far away, it's not too early to start preparing for the Australian Outback Marathon. That's why we put together these tips to help you prepare for your journey to the Red Centre. Yes, race day is what you're training for, but there's plenty for you to experience here before and after your race! Make your plan, discover everything Ayers Rock Resort has to offer, and start getting ready for the marathon today.

marathon runners in the outback
A Woman runs is the Australia Outback Marathon

Register for the Marathon

While it may seem obvious to register for the marathon, it's for a good reason! Registration shows you're committed to running. It offers something to work towards and gives you direction and motivation to focus on achieving your running goals. Register for the distance that suits your running style, circle the last Saturday of July on your calendar, and start training!

Pick a Charity to Fundraise For

The Australian Outback Marathon encourages fundraising for all competitors in the marathons and fun runs. Ask yourself who you want to run for? There are so many worthy and wonderful charities and causes that can benefit from your help. And if you're not sure who to fundraise for, reach out to Australian Outback Marathon organizers. They support schools in the Red Centre and are happy to discuss how you can also use the marathon as a fundraising opportunity to help communities. Fundraising motivates you even more as you train on the good days and tough ones, knowing you're making a difference for a good cause!

Choose Your Shoes

Comfort is key for both training and the marathon itself. Stop by your local running store and try on a number of different shoes to find the best fit. Comfort makes your marathon experience better and reduces the risk of injury. Keep in mind the surfaces you'll run on during the Australian Outback Marathon. The route features hard-packed earth, soft sand, unsealed roads, and asphalt roads. The amount of soft sand on the trails depends on the weather conditions in the months before the marathon. Rain makes the sand more compact while drier weather means looser soil. The marathon organizers recommend training on sand just in case. Don't forget to pack shoes you've trained in, you don't want to break in a new pair during the run!

A woman runs through a human tunnel of supporters
Runners jump excitedly in the Australian Outback Marathon

Find Something Comfortable to Wear

When you're packing your suitcase for a trip to Ayers Rock Resort for the Australian Outback Marathon, keep the seasonal temperature in mind. The race takes place late July, which is the middle of winter here in Australia. The average temperature in the daytime is 21 degrees Celsius, or 70 degrees Fahrenheit — ideal for running. You can expect average temperatures of five degrees Celsius, or 41 degrees Fahrenheit in the early mornings and evenings. This means it could be cool at the start of the race, but it's sure to warm up as the day goes on. Make sure to pack something warm to wear in the evening after the race when the temperature dips. We also recommend racing in something you've trained in and find comfortable. That way, you can focus on your race and the incredible views of the red desert. The last thing you want is to be a couple hours into the marathon and realize there's a tag on your running shirt that's irritating and distracting!

A Woman runs in a tutu in the Australia Outback Marathon
A person runs in the Australia Outback Marathon dressed as Scooby Doo

Craft A Training Plan

Running a marathon is a big commitment and takes lots of careful planning. Training from home gives you the chance to perfect your routine so you can make the most of your Australian Outback Marathon with no surprises. Find clothes and shoes that are comfortable for training in. Make sure you have a timing device so you can manage your training (and see your improvements over time!). You could track this with a GPS watch, your smartphone, an activity tracker, or even a simple timer will do the trick. Decide how many days a week you will train and how you'll blend walking and running into that training. Create a plan for the distance you'll cover each week, gradually increasing it as you get closer to the marathon date in late July. Eating and drinking are also crucial when it comes to fueling your body for a race. You don't want to train on an empty stomach (or a full one)! Find a good workout snack you can include in your training routine. And make sure you quench your thirst when you feel thirsty, but don't drink too much water beforehand.

A woman crosses the finish line at the Australian Outback Marathon
A Woman smiles while running in the Australia Outback Marathon

Pick Your Soundtrack

You get to decide what you hear while running. If you enjoy the silence and prefer to just run, that's okay. The soundtrack of your surroundings can be a great way to clear your mind while you train. For some, training is a great chance to let upbeat tunes push you that extra step. For others, it's a time to get caught up on your latest podcast or dive into an audiobook so you can run and read at the same time. Training takes loads of time and is more enjoyable if you have the perfect soundtrack. Whatever audio experience gets you in the running zone, you can bring that to Central Australia as you race.

Learn About the History of Uluru

Not all your preparation for this marathon involves breaking a sweat! No matter how much you train, no words can adequately describe what you’ll feel when you see the iconic Uluru for the first time. Even if you’ve seen the sandstone monolith in previous visits to the Red Centre, there’s something special about running a marathon with Uluru as a backdrop. Why not prepare for your run with some of its fascinating history?

Discover why the Uluru climb closed in October 2019 and why that’s a reason to celebrate. Also, read these myth-busting facts about Uluru. It won’t take long to see why Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for both cultural and natural values.

Oh, and did you know that when you’re running in the Australian Outback Marathon, you’ll make your way along many private roads that aren’t usually open to the public? It’s true! And you can expect to see plenty of wildlife along these roads. Here are five of the notable species that call the park home.

Runners compete in the Australian Outback Marathon with Uluru in the background

Choose your Ayers Rock Resort Accommodations

The only way to enter the marathon is by selecting one of five packages with the Australian Outback Marathon, ranging from three days and two nights to six days and five nights. Each of these five packages has a fully hosted hotel option or a self-booked accommodation option. No matter which route you choose, you'll have options for selecting where you stay at Ayers Rock Resort.

Will you opt for five-star luxury at Sails in the Desert? Or stay at Desert Gardens Hotel, the only accommodations at Ayers Rock Resort with views of Uluru. Are you running with your family or with another couple and friends? Emu Walk Apartments are a great option, featuring the amenities of home in self-contained apartments. The Lost Camel Hotel offers contemporary boutique-style accommodations with bright colours and clean whites — an aesthetic that adds to your race relaxation and recovery!

Book Your Red Centre Experiences

Many of the Australian Outback Marathon packages include experiences that guests of Ayers Rock Resort absolutely love. Every package has time for optional tours, like a sunset camel ride to enjoy at the end of race day. Many experiences have limited availability, so double-check your marathon itinerary and book early to make sure you don’t miss out!


Are you ready to hit the ground running?

Start your marathon training plan now and discover all the places you can stay and special experiences you’ll find on your Australian Outback adventure. See you in July!