It has been held every year since 1978 on a variety of courses but the highlight of Melbourne Marathon for the past three years is the finish line in the MCG.

All participants in the Melbourne marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k events finish their race with a lap inside the historic sports ground.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground in Yarra Park dates back to 1853. Over the years, it has hosted countless cricket matches, the 1956 OIympic Games, soccer, rugby (league and union), the 2006 Commonwealth Games, music concerts and even a Papal mass.

This year around 20,000 participated in the different events - including elite runners in three championships races. Melbourne hosted the Australian Marathon Championship, Victorian Marathon Championship and the Australian University distance running championship over the marathon, half and 10km distances.

"These are a sign of the Melbourne Marathon's growing credibility on the world stage and herald a promising future for the event," race organisers said.

The predominately flat running courses take in some of Melbourne's most famous landmarks, including Federation Square, the Victorian Arts Centre, St Kilda Road, the Tan, the Shrine, Albert Park Lake and Beaconsfield Parade along the Port Phillip Bay waterfront.

Federation Square is Melbourne's meeting place. People have gathered there ever since the cultural and entertainment destination was opened to the public.

The Arts Centre site has always been associated with arts and entertainment and has previously been home to circus, theatre, roller and ice skating, cinema and dance. It now comprises two buildings, the Theatres Building and Hamer Hall, both opened in the 1980s.

The Tan and the Shrine are both found in the Botanic Gardens Domain, the former a popular walking and jogging track and the latter a huge remembrance memorial honouring Australia's war dead.

Ethiopian runner Asnake Fekadu won the marathon in 2:17:32 and the first woman over the line was Australian Lisa Flint in 2:34:08 - a Commonwealth Games qualifying time.

Lisa said she was inspired to take up marathon running after fellow Australian Kerry McCann won the event at the 2006 Commonwealth Games which also finished in the MCG. Kerry McCann died last year of cancer.

Also among runners were Melbourne Marathon Spartans Club members. The club began in 1987 for those who had completed all 10 Melbourne marathons. Today people still qualify for membership after 10 marathons and there are there are more than 1100 potential members from Melbourne, Australia and overseas.

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