History of the Melbourne Marathon

The story so far

In the late seventies and early 80s, most major cities decided to follow in the successful footsteps of Boston and host a marathon. With milk drink Big M sponsoring it, Melbourne staged its first marathon in 1978 on a course that began in Frankston, headed up Nepean Highway and finished outside the Melbourne Town Hall. The first race director was Ted Paulin, a former star middle distance runner. Over 2000 runners took part in the inaugural event with most catching a special early morning train to Frankston. 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. Now owned by IMG, the race has become the biggest marathon in Australia with a record 6218 completing the course in 2012 and more than 35,000 entries across the four accompanying events - The Flight Centre Half Marathon, The Coffee Club 10km and the Asics 5.7km run and 3km walk events. 

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

Both records were set in cool, windy conditions in 2013.

  • Women: 2:26.05: Lisa Weightman (Australia). 
  • Men: 2:10.47: Dominic Ondoro  (Kenya).

Most Wheelchair wins

  • Ian Gainey and Brendon Milgate have own the race four times.

Fastest wheelchair time

  • 1995 Brendon Milgate 1:41.07.

Melbourne Marathon Age gp records:

  • 40-44: 2010 Rowan Walker 2:18.01, 1999 Sue Hobson 2:33.27
  • 45-49: 1982 Bill Raimond 2:25.51, 1997 Colleen Stephens 2:51.01
  • 50-54: 2009 Michael McIntyre 2:31.30, 1990 Margaret Ellis-Smith 3:12.14
  • 55-59: 2009 Ron Peters 2:37.27, 1984 Jean Albury 3:09.14
  • 60-64: 2002 Clive Henderson 2:47.40, 1992 Shirley Young 3:27.40
  • 65-69: 1996 Bill Page 3:12.38, 2007 Melody-Anne Schulz 3:38.38
  • 70-74: 1995 Randall Hughes 3:09.00, 2001 Shirley Young 4:03.52
  • 75-79: 2013 Yoshiki Miyake 4:12.05, 2006 Shirley Young 4:36.46
  • 80-84: 2009 Anthony Martin 5:14.20.
  • Half records: Male: 2007 Brett Cartwright 63.02. Female: 2011 Jess Trengove 72.37

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. 

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.
  • 2010-2013: No significant changes have taken place.

Sponsors

The Melbourne Marathon has had nine different major sponsors in its 35 years.

  • St George is the first bank to get behind the event as naming rights sponsor.
  • 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 2012-2014

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 2010-2014

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 (6857).
  • 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 last year and close to 10,000 runners entered the 10km event, swelling overall race entries to just over 34,000.
Previous biggest Australian marathon by finishers
  • 2013 Melbourne 6857
  • 2012 Gold Coast 5118
  • 2010 Melbourne 5026
  • 2011 Melbourne 4956

The Wall


To purchase a copy of The Wall: The History of the Melbourne Marathon 1978 - 2012, please click here.

Previous Winners - Male

Year Winner Country Time
1978 Bill Scott VIC 2:21:04
1979 Andrew Lloyd NSW 2:26:44
1980 Andrew Lloyd NSW 2:17:37
1981 Andrew Lloyd NSW 2:19:03
1982 Bill Rodgers USA 2:11:08
1983 Juma Ikangaa Tanz 2:13:15
1984 Juma Ikangaa Tanz 2:15:31
1985 Fred van der Vennet Belg 2:12:35
1986 Richard Umberg Switz 2:17:21
1987 Ric Sayre USA 2:14:16
1988 Tommy Huges Ireland 2:18:14
1989 Takeshi So Japan 2:18:13
1990 Russell Foley TAS 2:20:35
1991 Victor Muzgovoi Russia 2:17:02
1992 Slawomir Gurny Poland 2:16:04
1993 Jerry Modiga Sth Africa 2:15:07
1994 Manabu Kawagoe Japan 2:19:02
1995 Osamu Monoe Japan 2:17:19
1996 Zerhun Gizaw Ethiopia 2:22:40
1997 Greg Lyons VIC 2:15:49
1998 Daniel Radebe Sth Africa 2:12:48
1999 Michael McIntyre VIC 2:25:04
2000 Jamie Harrison NSW 2:25:53
2001 Todd Ingraham WA 2:23:58
2002 Phillip Sly VIC 2:22:28
2003 Magnus Michelsson VIC 2:14:00
2004 Magnus Michelsson VIC 2:26:51
2005 Nick Harrison VIC 2:23:30
2006 Kazunari Suzuki Japan 2:23:43
2007 Rohan Walker VIC 2:19:16
2008 Asnake Befikadu Ethiopia 2:17:43
2009 Asnake Befikadu Ethiopia 2:17:32
2010 Japhet Kipkorir Kenya 2:11:04
2011 Japhet Kipkorir Kenya 2:11:11
2012 Jonathan Chesoo Kenya 2:12:35
 2013  Dominic Ondoro Kenya 2:10:47 

Previous Winners - Female

Year Winner Country Time
1978 Elizabeth Hassell NSW 2:53:38
1979 Jane Kuchins USA 3:12:35
1980 Rosemary Longstaff ACT 2:46:16
1981 Jackie Turney VIC 2:42:12
1982 Sue King USA 2:37:57
1983 Rhonda Mallinder VIC 2:37:56
1984 Margaret Reddan QLD 2:43:40
1985 Margaret Reddan QLD 2:44:56
1986 Tani Ruckle NSW 2:36:06
1987 Jackie Turney VIC 2:44:18
1988 Coral Farr VIC 2:47:38
1989 Colleen Stephens VIC 2:49:18
1990 Alevtina Chasova Russia 2:39:00
1991 Irina Petrova Russia 2:39:57
1992 Alena Peterkova Czech  2:33:02
1993 Dominique Rembert France 2:44:22
1994 Winnie Ng Hong Kong 2:47:37
1995 Lyn Clayton NSW 2:38:50
1996 Sylvia Rose NSW 2:41:53
1997 Tracey Newton VIC 2:48:32
1998 Sherryn Rhodes VIC 2:37:56
1999 Susan Hobson ACT 2:33:27
2000 Nellie Marmy-Conus Switz 2:49:22
2001 Samantha Hughes Qld 2:39:44
2002 Sherryn Rhodes VIC 2:47:08
2003 Loretta McGrath VIC 2:49:01
2004 Belinda Schipp NSW 2:54:01
2005 Sherryn Rhodes VIC 2:50:35
2006 Karen Natoli VIC 2:53:06
2007 Hanny Allston TAS 2:40:34
2008 Mai Tagami Japan 2:38:16
2009 Lisa Flint NSW 2:34:08
2010 Mulu Seboka Ethiopia 2:32:20
2011 Irene Mogaka Kenya 2:35:12
2012 Lauren Shelley WA 2:36:29
2013  Lisa Weightman VIC 2:26:05

Melbourne Marathon Partners