Event History

The story so far

In the late seventies and early 80s, most major cities decided to follow in the successful footsteps of New York and host a marathon. With milk drink Big M sponsoring it, Melbourne staged its first marathon in 1978 on a Boston-style point-to-point course that began in Frankston, headed up Nepean Highway and finished outside the Melbourne Town Hall.

It was a hasty baptism with the first event only officially being announced in June and it took place on November 5, Melbourne Cup weekend. Over 2000 runners took part in the inaugural event with most catching a special early morning train to Frankston. Olympic 10,000m runner Bill Scott and Sydney’s Liz Hassall won, while Melbourne’s first race director Ted Paulin, finished eighth.

The race quickly went through a boom period with more than 6000 entrants in 1983 – the year that Robert de Castella won the world marathon championship in Helsinki. But as with many events in the southern hemisphere, the race struggled through the 1990’s before a massive upsurge in interest in 2007 which accompanied a move to finish the race inside the iconic MCG stadium after IMG had taken over the ownership and running of the race in 2006. 

Since then the Melbourne Marathon has been the biggest marathon in Australia in terms of finishers. More than 8000 entered the 2019 event with a national record 7012 completing the course less than a day after Kenyan great Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to break 2 hours for a marathon in the Netherlands.

The half marathon and 10km held on the same day as the marathon have also been mega popular with more than 10,000 runners in both events in most years. In 2019 there were a record 37,185 entries across all the events.

The rise in credibility and a faster, flatter course has seen cream of Australian distance running take part in the Melbourne Marathon with several Olympians winning the event including Lisa Weightman (2013, 2:26.05), Jess Stenson (nee Trengove) (2015, 2:27.45), Sinead Diver (2018, 2:25.19) and Milly Clark (2021 2:26.59) along with Liam Adams (2018, 2:15.13) and Brett Robinson (2021, 2:1432).

The Covid era presented many challenges and in 2020 the race was held as a ‘virtual’ event. With restrictions still applying in Victoria for much of 2021, the race was moved back to December 12, started at 6am to avoid the heat, and with new sponsor Nike on board, was back with a bang.

But by 2022 it was business as usual in October with more than 30,000 runners taking part, including Kenyan Timothy Ronoh who collected a $20,000 bonus for smashing the race record with his time of 2:09.12. Adelaide Olympian Izzi Batt-Doyle ran the fastest ever marathon time on debut by an Australian clocking 2:28.10.

Inaugural Winners - 1978

Bill Scott – an Olympic 10,000m finalist
Elizabeth Hassell – went on to become the first Australian woman to break 2:40.

Most wins - three

1990 Commonwealth Games 5000m gold medallist Andrew Lloyd won the event three times from 1979-81 when he was the Fun Run King.

The only female to win the event three times is Victorian Sherryn Rhodes, who won in 1998, 2002 and 2005.

Race records

Women: 2:25.19 Sinead Diver (Australia) in 2018

Men: 2:09.12 Timothy Ronoh (Kenya) in 2022

Most Wheelchair wins

Ian Gainey and Brendon Milgate have both won the race four times.

Fastest Wheelchair Time

1995 Brendon Milgate 1:41.07.

Melbourne Marathon Age Group records


YearNameAge GroupTime
2010Rowan Walker40-44 2:18:01
1982Bill Raimond45-49 2:25:51
2009Michael McIntyre50-54 2:31:30
2018John Meagher55-592:37.14
2015Ron Peters60-64 2:44:00 am
2013Bob Lane65-693:09:17
1995Ron Hughes70-74 3:09:00
2021Peter Sanders75-793:55:31
2022Charles Harcoan80-845:29:26
2013Antony Martin85+6:18:44


YearNameAge GroupTime
2018Sinead Diver40-442:25.19
1997Colleen Stephens45-492:51:01
2021Jennifer Robertson50-543:00.13
2021Jill Wilkie55-592:56.08
1992Shirley Young60-643:27:40 am
2007Melody-Anne Schultz65-693:38:38
2001Shirley Young70-744:03:52
2017Caroline Campbell75-795:39


Oldest winners

Essendon’s Michael McIntyre (2:25.04 in 1999) was 41.
Hong Kong’s Winnie Ng (2:47.37 in 1994) was 41yrs 10 months, three months older than Susan Hobson.

Youngest winners

Sydney’s Andrew Lloyd (2:26.44 in 1979) was 20.
Tracey Newton (2:48.32 in 1997) was 21.

Melbourne Marathon Winners Over The Years

YearWinnerCountryTimeYearWinner Time
1978Bill ScottVIC2:21:041978Elizabeth HassellNSW2:53:38
1979Andrew LloydNSW2:26:441979Jane KuchinsUSA3:12:35
1980Andrew LloydNSW2:17:371980Rosemary LongstaffACT2:46:16
1981Andrew LloydNSW2:19:031981Jackie TurneyVIC2:42:12
1982Bill RodgersUSA2:11:081982Sue KingUSA2:37:57
1983Juma IkangaaTanz2:13:151983Rhonda MallinderVIC2:37:56
1984Juma IkangaaTanz2:15:311984Margaret ReddanQLD2:43:40
1985Fred van der VennetBelg2:12:351985Margaret ReddanQLD2:44:56
1986Richard UmbergSwitz2:17:211986Tani RuckleNSW2:36:06
1987Ric SayreUSA2:14:161987Jackie TurneyVIC2:44:18
1988Tommy HugesIreland2:18:141988Coral FarrVIC2:47:38
1989Takeshi SoJapan2:18:131989Colleen StephensVIC2:49:18
1990Russell FoleyTAS2:20:351990Alevtina ChasovaRussia2:39:00
1991Victor MuzgovoiRussia2:17:021991Irina PetrovaRussia2:39:57
1992Slawomir GurnyPoland2:16:041992Alena PeterkovaCzech 2:33:02
1993Jerry ModigaSth Africa2:15:071993Dominique RembertFrance2:44:22
1994Manabu KawagoeJapan2:19:021994Winnie NgHong Kong2:47:37
1995Osamu MonoeJapan2:17:191995Lyn ClaytonNSW2:38:50
1996Zerhun GizawEthiopia2:22:401996Sylvia RoseNSW2:41:53
1997Greg LyonsVIC2:15:491997Tracey NewtonVIC2:48:32
1998Daniel RadebeSth Africa2:12:481998Sherryn RhodesVIC2:37:56
1999Michael McIntyreVIC2:25:041999Susan HobsonACT2:33:27
2000Jamie HarrisonNSW2:25:532000Nellie Marmy-ConusSwitz2:49:22
2001Todd IngrahamWA2:23:582001Samantha HughesQld2:39:44
2002Phillip SlyVIC2:22:282002Sherryn RhodesVIC2:47:08
2003Magnus MichelssonVIC2:14:002003Loretta McGrathVIC2:49:01
2004Magnus MichelssonVIC2:26:512004Belinda SchippNSW2:54:01
2005Nick HarrisonVIC2:23:302005Sherryn RhodesVIC2:50:35
2006Kazunari SuzukiJapan2:23:432006Karen NatoliVIC2:53:06
2007Rohan WalkerVIC2:19:162007Hanny AllstonTAS2:40:34
2008Asnake BefikaduEthiopia2:17:432008Mai TagamiJapan2:38:16
2009Asnake BefikaduEthiopia2:17:322009Lisa FlintNSW2:34:08
2010Japhet KipkorirKenya2:11:042010Mulu SebokaEthiopia2:32:20
2011Japhet KipkorirKenya2:11:112011Irene MogakaKenya2:35:12
2012Jonathan ChesooKenya2:12:352012Lauren ShelleyWA2:36:29
2013Pius Dominic OndoroKenya2:10:472013Lisa WeightmanVic2:26:05 am
2014Pius Dominic OndoroKenya2:11.:302014Nikki ChappleVic2:31:05 am
2015Brad MilosevicNSW2:16:002015Jess TrengoveSA2:27:45 am
2016Thomas Do CantoNSW2:20:532016Virginia MoloneyVic2:34:27 am
2017Isaac BirirKenya2:14:082017Celia SullohernNSW2:29:27 am
2018Liam AdamsVic2:15.132018Sinead DiverVic2:25.19
2019Isaac BirirKenya2:16.312019Naomi MaiyoKenya2:35.14
2021Brett RobinsonACT2:14:322021Milly ClarkTas2:26:59
2022Timothy RonohKenya2:09:122022Beatrice CheptooKenya2:27:48

Course Route

1978: The first Melbourne Marathon started in Frankston and went directly up Nepean Hwy to St Kilda Rd with the finish in front of the Melbourne Town Hall.

1982: The course started in Frankston, but used Beach Rd, finishing at the Arts Centre.

1992: The marathon started at Olympic Park and finished at the Arts Centre after a loop.

1996: The marathon started and finished at Albert Park.

2000: The course reverted to Frankston start with finish at Albert Park Lake.

2005: The finish line was moved back in front of the Arts Centre.

2007: The course started in Wellington Parade Sth and finished inside MCG after heading out to Sandringham.

2008: The start was moved to Batman Avenue.

2009: Birdwood Avenue (Botanical Gardens) was added to the course and Kerferd Rd removed for residential access reasons. Brighton’s Golden Mile was dropped with the new turnaround at Elwood.

2010-2016: No significant changes have taken place, although in 2011 and 2014 the course finished outside the MCG


The Melbourne Marathon has had nine different major sponsors in its 42 years.

The first naming rights sponsor, Big M, lasted from 1978 to 1985.

Others include: Budget 1986-1989, Qantas 1990-94, Vic Health 1995 and 1997, City of Melbourne 1998-1999, Asics 2000-2005, Samsung 2006-2008, St George (Bank of Melbourne) 2009-2011, Medibank 2012-2018, Nike 2021 – present.

Race/event directors

There have been five race/event directors, although a board of management took control during the City of Melbourne sponsorship period.

Ted Paulin 1978-1993

John Mallinder 1994-1999

Joe Murphy 2000-2005

Dallas O’Brien 2006-2009

Greg Hooton 2010-2015

Marcus Gale 2016-present

Number of competitors

Since moving the course to a finish inside the MCG In 2007, the Melbourne Marathon has regained its status as the premier marathon in Australia. In 2013 the race was the largest marathon in Australian history both in terms of entries (8066) and finishers (6820).

There were 123 women who ran in the first event in 1978. In 2013, there were 2004 female finishers, including 18 women breaking three hours.

More than 11,000 runners took part in Melbourne’s half marathon event in 2018 and close to 10,000 runners entered the 10km event, swelling overall race entries to just over 34,000.

Note: In 2017, the Medibank Melbourne Marathon doubled as the Australian Marathon Championships

In 2019, the second year in a row, the Melbourne Marathon Festival achieved another record 37,185 participants – the highest figure yet; including a sell-out event for the Half Marathon and the 10km Run. Marathon entries jumped up by more than 1000 to just under 8500 this year, prompting organisers to enforce an entry closure with a week to go.


Previous biggest Australian marathon by finishers

2013 Melbourne 6857

2012 Gold Coast 5118

2010 Melbourne 5026

2011 Melbourne 4956

2019 Melbourne 7026

Melbourne Half Marathon

The first Melbourne Half Marathon was held in 1992.

The event has been held on the same day as the marathon, and in 2015 doubled as the Australian Half Marathon Championship.

The 2015 Australian Championship winners were Lisa Weightman in a course record time of 1:11.00 and Jono Peters in 1:05.34.

In 2015, the Melbourne Half Marathon was the largest half marathon in Australia with 9599 finishers.

The 2018 Half Marathon sold out and we finished with a record 9968 finishers making Melbourne the largest half marathon in Australia.

The Half Marathon once again sold out in 2019. We managed to set our own race record with 10,200 finishers – the first time we have surpassed the 10,000 figure and once again we claimed the crown of being Australia’s largest half marathon.

Course Records

Men: 2013 Wilfred Murgor (Kenya) 1:01.57

Women: 2021 Izzi Batt Doyle (Aus) 1:10.16


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