While beach running can have its appeal, there are also some setbacks. The pliable ground can lead to extra strain on joints, and water and sand tend to seep into everything on your person. The run, though, is normally coupled with beautiful scenery, nice ocean breezes and a shorter workout with larger gains. With this being the case, running in the Mornington Peninsula National Park is a great way to get a good workout for those visiting Victoria, Australia.
Located around an hour outside of Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula is a beach baby’s dream for a vacation. Beach and sand line either side of the coast and small coastal towns add a nice touch of Australian charm. But this isn’t why runners should visit. Runners should visit to brave the trails all along the back beach coastline.
While there are tame trails that run along the coastline on the bay side of Mornington Peninsula, the trails that line the back beaches give exquisite views, while taking a runner on tough terrain. Starting at Lot 16 in the National Park, I headed south towards the Peninsula’s tip. The trail from the parking lot was just hidden from the coast, but it was still comprised of sand, though it was hard packed. The trail was somewhat hidden by overgrowth, but after about 1K, it offered a small soft-packed sand trail that headed up a dune and onto the cliffs lining the coast. This was the first glimpse of how tough the run could be.
After finally summiting the dune, I found myself seemingly on top of the world, starring out over miles of coastline backed by the Tasman Sea. The waves on the back beaches are immense, crashing hard on a coastline that is a nice blend of reef, beach and tidal pools. The trail veered toward the tip of the Peninsula (which was still Ks and Ks away), and weaved its way through bushes and varying depths of sand, while continuing along the cliffs. At some points the trail was marked, but at other points I found myself hopping over bushes and searching for a way continue on over a dune.
For about 2K, I found a great trail that led me across the cliffs, while offering a decently packed, dense trail. Waves crashed, a scurrying echidna or two crossed the trail and the wind blew calmly until my trail disappeared, marking the turning point of my run. I chose to wear shoes on my run, but for those who enjoy the feeling of sand on their feet, this is a good place to run barefoot. Beware of hot sand during the day and hidden prickles, courtesy of the bushes.
While Mornington Peninsula is a great place to run, it truly is a difficult workout. The sand dunes are tall, the deep sand is a burden and if you find yourself on the bad side of the wind, you will be constantly pelted with sand. Regardless, if you are looking for a hard run that rewards you with beautiful scenery and nice place to take a dip, look no further than Mornington Peninsula National Park.
Image courtesy of author.