I was so fortunate to have been invited to my very own private running tour of Sydney through Sydney in Motion recently. I was welcomed most courteously by Amy, my enthusiastic running tour guide. Her partner Phillip met us only about 5-10 minutes into the tour.
A photo of me with Phillip - where the magic began at the iconic Town Hall Steps
The whole process of booking a running tour with these two guys from Sydney in Motion is seamless. You fill out a small registration form, and you get to choose your preferred running pace from three different paces. You are asked of any current injuries and medical conditions, and you will also need to provide emergency contact details. The tours run every Sunday at 9am. Each tour is 6km length wise, and they go for 90 minutes.
Despite pouring rain when I went for my private tour on a Sunday afternoon, I was looking forward to this new experience. Definitely something different. Amy keeps a bum bag with her to store your valuables in. I came with my train ticket, credit card, and a small set of house keys. Naturally I also brought a water bottle with me, and as I had to take some photos for this article - my iPhone came with me on this occasion too. I could have left the cardigan at home, yet it was freezing when I left home one hour prior. It is okay to tie any jumpers around your waist.
Brilliant. Time to stretch and have a breather on this running tour if needed.
Amy and Phillip initially met at law school at Sydney University. They have extensively travelled to over 45 countries together, and it is through attending many tours themselves that their passion for being tour guides started to blossom. They both took up running as a form of exercise to cope with the various demands of their jobs 12 months ago. About three months ago, they both took that leap of faith to set up up their own running tours business. This is how Sydney in Motion was born.
So far, both Amy and Phillip agree that this risk is paying off. They know so much about Sydney. It turns out that both Amy and Phillip were born and bred in Sydney. They would not live anywhere else. Their knowledge of Sydney's past is so impressive. Setting up these running tours is their way to express their passion for running, Sydney and history all rolled into one.
I met Amy at Sydney's iconic meeting place - the Town Hall Steps. Amy gives me a run down of what to expect, and then we head down the stairs, and Amy uses the map nearby to show me the route for this tour. The tour finished up on Bridge Street, on the Circular Quay end.
One of the beautiful bubblers to drink from on this tour if needed
The history is now shared, and the stretches begin. On this, the tour is rather flexible. If you're not in the mood to stretch, or you prefer to stretch your arms instead of participating in some squats, you're free to do that as well. Both Amy and Phillip customise their running pace to match yours and the groups.
I learn more about the Eternity Man, and then I learn more about the Queen Victoria Building. It is interesting to learn that Malaysian company Ipoh purchased this building in the late 80's. It took them six years to transform this elegant shopping space into what it is today.
Great tour guides. Amy and Phillip really shared from the heart.
Now the running is full throttle. At this stage of the tour, I am super impressed that Amy and Phillip are able to talk to me professionally, as well as run at the same time. Any tour guide would know that conducting presentations to guests exerts a lot of physical energy. This is challenging enough as it is walking, yet for running - I am super impressed.
Phillip and I choosing to jump in the air. We're Body Attack style fitness freaks.
We run to and through Hyde Park. More enjoyable history to sink in. I now learn that Hyde Park used to be a racecourse, and that the Tank Stream initiated in Hyde Park. We run around the water fountains. Both Amy and Phillip appreciate the old school bubblers, and they explain that there are bubbler stops along the way to stay hydrated from running. At this stage of the tour, I was also introduced to the Fraser Fountain bubbler, right near one of Sydney's most expensive private schools. Apparently, I also learnt on this tour that film producer Baz Luhrmann went to this school. We run around the water fountain, and some more history is shared. Then it's photo time, and Phillip and I are jumping in the air.
Amy and Phillip touching that lucky pig outside Sydney Hospital
Time to run to Macquarie Street. Both Amy and Phillip now share that the Hyde Park Barracks was home to the convicts, and is where Francis Greenway used to live. Our Parliament House used to be a rum hospital, and I also learnt more about that lucky pig from Italy outside Sydney Hospital. We're all touching it for good luck.
We keep on running, and then stop outside the Palace Gardens gate at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Continuously throughout this tour, both Amy and Phillip have a bounded display book with them, with pictures of what the sites used to be like in the past. Unfortunately the Palace Gardens was burnt down in 1882, and from the picture shown to me, this landmark was a larger version of the Queen Victoria Building. Now, time for some more core work. Chatting and squatting is not easy, yet we managed.
Showing me a picture of a prominent spot before it burnt down in 1882
It was beautiful running inside the Royal Botanical Gardens. This is where Amy's passion for art comes alive. Their knowledge of the piece of art called A Folly for Mrs Macquarie is impressive. The information is gold actually.
The beautiful botanical gardens. I just had to take this photo along the way.
Moving on, I learn more about the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We walked up the stairs as I needed a momentary pause from running. Afterwards, my running shoes were back on. With the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the backdrop, Amy is now doing some push ups. On this occasion, I did not care to join her as I was admiring the view and the abundance of facts. For the history buffs among you, I learnt that over 272,000 litres of paint was used to paint the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Furthermore, there are 1,056,006 tiles on the Sydney Opera House. I was shown some other pictures from what this space could have been out of the 232 entrants that entered a competition to create this space. Utzon won this prize, and construction of this popular Sydney attraction went way over budget.
We keep running to the Cahill Expressway, and the birds eye view of Circular Quay and Sydney Harbour is admirable. The incline is quite steep heading to The Rocks, and therefore we decided to walk that part. It also depends on how your body feels at the time. Amy takes over on the history lessons, and her knowledge on The Rocks is impressive. Yes, we're all running again. We even headed to The Observatory area, to only run back to Bridge Street where the tour ended.
So much to discover about this space on this great tour
A running tour is unique. I brought a 750ml bottle of water with me, and it was almost empty by the time the tour finished. Whether you love running, or perhaps you want to get outside of your comfort zone, then I highly recommend you participate in this tour. This tour is wonderful for both locals and visitors to Sydney alike. The history facts presented focus on Sydney as a whole, and not just on Sydneysider related issues. Amy and Phillip are friendly, smart and knowledgeable people. From what began as a quest to compete in their first Great Ocean Road Marathon, to have also competed in running events such as the Sydney Marathon is now their passion and full-time business intertwined with their love of sharing full stop. Super impressive, Amy now participates in triathlons too.
Amy doing some more stretches. I chose to admire the view at this time.
This tour is suitable for all fitness levels, from novice to experienced runners. They're able to customise the tour for you should you choose to run longer distances for example. Flexibility is everything, and the way they explain the history is definitely not recited from a textbook. The personalities behind their stories is emphasised. You definitely see a lot more of Sydney in less time on a running tour through Amy and Phillip from Sydney in Motion than you would on a three-hour history walking tour for instance. This tour would be a great way to recover from flying if you happen to be planning a trip to Sydney, if you happen to not be a local Sydney sider reading this article.
Wow, only four of those tiny screws in this picture hold the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Incredible.
"We are delighted to also offer a discount to Weekend Notes readers - from $60 to $40 per runner. The money is going to a good cause, as we are donating 100% of proceeds this month to Cure Cancer Australia - a charity we are supporting in conjunction with our preparation for the Great Ocean Road Ultra-Marathon in May :)"