By now thousands of West Australians have experienced the magic of Optus Stadium.
And now everyday punters have the opportunity to step foot on the same turf as their sporting heroes when the Perth Running Festival returns on October 6.
First staged in 2018, the festival is the only event of its kind to start and finish at the stadium, with participants given the opportunity to run or walk onto the ground and see their name on the big screens as they cross the finish line.
“There’s a lot of people now that have experienced going there and experienced the crowd and the atmosphere and the lights, but very rarely do you get to go onto the surface,” organiser Chris Billings says.
Almost 10,000 people took part in the inaugural event last October, with 100 per cent of the money raised going to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
“The life-saving medical research that they perform there … these guys are doing tremendous work,” Billings says. “It gives you that feel-good feeling to know that putting on an event like this goes to such critical research and hopefully one day in at least my lifetime, we can find cures for these hard-to-treat diseases.”
As well as raising much-needed funds for the Institute, Billings says the long-term goal is to make the festival WA’s number-one running event. “Because our course takes in a lot of the Perth landmarks and also utilising the terrific Optus Stadium, we want to put this event on the map for international runners,” Billings says. “That’s why we’ve gone ahead and professionally measured the course so the people who do run in our flat, fast course can use those times and enter enter the priority waves in other marathons around the world.”
With four course options — marathon, half-marathon, 10km and 4km — the event is designed to suit all fitness levels. “No matter whether you’re walking, running, strolling, being pushed along, it’s just a feel-good, happy day and everyone gets to experience that great finish inside the stadium,” he says.
“You don’t have to be an elite athlete, you don’t have to be in an elite walker, it’s just wherever and how long it takes you to complete the course.”
Those who sign up also have access to a wealth of free expert advice including tips on training and nutrition. They can also take advantage of free weekly training sessions, and the motivation that comes with being part of the ever-growing PRF tribe.
“You get to mix with like-minded people who just want to get out,” Billings says. “They might not necessarily be the fittest people in the world but they just want to improve their fitness, meet some new people and just be a part of that running community and do something better for their health and fitness.”
The 2019 Perth Running Festival is on Sunday, October 6.
Course options: Choose from a 4km Family Run, 7 News 10km, 21km Half-Marathon or 42km Marathon distances.
Prizes: The top male and female marathon finishers will each receive $2000 cash thanks to the West Australian Marathon Club. The second finishers will each receive $1000, the third $500, the fourth $250 and the fifth a set of Under Armour runners.
How to enter: Visit perthrunningfestival.com.au.