Melbourne’s spiritual home of running, The Tan, is in the heart of the city’s sports and entertainment precinct, near the MCG and Melbourne Park. Just a short distance from the CBD, its 3.8km crushed gravel track is popular with runners of all standards, from joggers to weekend warriors to Olympians.
The Tan at lunchtime on a beautiful September day.. VIEW GALLERY
The Tan Track was established in 1901 as an integral part of the development of Alexandra Avenue. The boulevard design comprised four separate lanes each performing a different transport function: an equestrian track (the Tan), a carriage drive, a bicycle path and a pedestrian path. The name “Tan” refers to the tan-bark surfacing of the equestrian track. The original Tan was only 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) long and was located on the south side of the vehicle carriage drive between Anderson Street and St Kilda Road. It was separated from the main carriageway by a raised garden-bed, edged with large irregular rocks set vertically, planted with a row of Elm and a ground-cover of low strap and round-leafed plants.
The Tan as it turns into Linthligow Avenue into Alexandra Avenue. VIEW GALLERY
Early maintenance was poor with chronic funding shortages. Measures were introduced to simplify maintenance. By the mid 1920s, sections of the Tan along Alexandra Avenue had been converted to grass and most of the raised planting beds removed. However, horse riding remained a popular recreation. In the mid 1930s, the Tan was used by up to 200 horse riders on weekends. By 1925, there were public requests for the extension of the track which in 1965 was lengthened to an overall distance of 1.5 miles (2.42 kilometres).
A popular lunchtime running spot for runners of all ages and abilities. VIEW GALLERY
By the 1950s, use of the Tan Track for equestrian activities had largely ceased and by the 1970s, it had become a pedestrian thoroughfare and occasional car park. In 1974 the Melbourne City Council, with financial assistance from the State Government, constructed a “Fun and Fitness Track” on the Tan. The track was resurfaced with a mixture of rock and gravel, car parking was banned, and a circuit route was established connecting the former Tan with extensions along Edward Avenue and Anderson Street. The extended Tan is 3.8 kilometres with a number of exercise stations installed en route. It was opened for use in 1974 and remains a popular walking and jogging route.
Lunchtime runners near the Shrine of Remembrance. VIEW GALLERY
A view of the Tan looking down Alexandra Avenue. VIEW GALLERY
Step out onto the The Tan at any time of day (or even into the evening, with the track lit until midnight) and you will find runners of all shapes and sizes striding around it. For purists, a lap commences at the Pillars of Wisdom near the Swan Street Bridge at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Alexandra Avenue, and progresses clockwise to cover the Anderson Street Hill during the early stages of the lap.
Even for elite athletes one's Tan PB is a badge of honour. Craig Mottram holds the fastest time at 10 minutes, 8 seconds (sub 8 minute 3000m pace), while Sarah Jamieson is the fastest woman over the course with a 11 minute, 57 second run.
10:08 Craig Mottram 2006
10:19 William Chirchir 2000
10:22 Noah Ngeny 1999
10:25 Luke Kipkosgei 1999
10:29 Bob Kennedy 1998
10:37 Harry Summers 2012
10:41 Steve Moneghetti 2003
11:57 Sarah Jamieson 2006
11:58 Kate Anderson 1996
12:07 Hayley McGregor 2003
12:12 Anna Thompson 2003
12:12 Georgie Clarke 2002
12:14 Clair Fearnley 2000
12:17 Lisa Weightman 2008
The start of the men's race at the 2012 AV Tan Relays. VIEW GALLERY
A traditional end to the Athletics Victoria XCR season is the Tan Relays, which will take place this Saturday 22 September. We'll have the camera out - check back on Saturday evening for event coverage.