The course of the next edition of the Sofico Gent Marathon, on Sunday 24 March 2024, will look completely different. The country’s biggest marathon is unveiling a completely revamped course based on two pillars: more stretches through Ghent’s historic city centre and an extra focus on running comfort. It is the first time that more than 15,000 participants are expected.
“The Sofico Gent Marathon is experiencing tremendous growth. The new course is a lot more attractive for the many domestic and international visitors who come to Ghent for a weekend of sports. Together with the City of Ghent we looked at both running comfort and integrating tourist attractions and we succeeded in this,” says Greg Broekmans of organiser Golazo Sports.
The new marathon course consists of four parts: a western, northern, eastern, and southern loop. The start and finish remain at the Topsporthal, and each loop returns to the city centre, which will give participants and supporters four passages through the heart of Ghent.
The initial kilometres, in the western part of Ghent, run along the Watersportbaan and AZ Jan Palfijn hospital, followed by a passage along the Nieuwe Wandeling. Participants head into the city centre for the first time taking the Coupure. In 2023, they took the cobblestones of Sint-Michielsplein and Graslei, this time the course runs over the Korenmarkt and past Ghent’s city hall. When participants pass the Korenmarkt, they will see Ghent’s three iconic towers: Saint Nicholas Church, the Belfry, and Saint Bavo Cathedral.
After the first passage through the heart of Ghent, it is time for the northern loop to veer towards De Nieuwe Dokken, a newly developed area of the city where port activities used to take place. From the harbour, the participants soon get to experience the third loop of the course, but first awaits their second stretch through the city centre. Via Dampoort, Sint-Jorisbrug and Vlasmarkt, the participants head east along the Scheldedijk to a green oasis in the city: the Gentbrugse Meersen.
Straight through KAA Gent’s Football Stadium
From the Scheldedijk, the runners return to the city centre for a third time. A southern passage through KAA Gent’s football stadium now awaits after Keizerspark and Liedermeerspark. The participants will literally run through the stadium and then return to the river Scheldt past the University Hospital, re-entering Ghent via the Kinepolis, Muinkkaai, the Zuid and the renovated De Krook library. When they leave the city centre for the last time, there are another 5 km remaining to the finish. They set course towards the finish on the athletics track of the Topsporthal at Blaarmeersen following the water via the Bijloke, Henleykaai and Neermeerskaai.
Half marathon & 10 km
The programme on 24 March also features a half marathon and a 10 km besides the marathon. Participants in the 21.095 km will complete the western and northern loops of the marathon. The 10 km course runs along the meandering Lys and nature reserve De Assels. All distances start and finish at the Topsporthal.
A true city marathon
“The new course will undoubtedly attract even more marathon runners,” said Sofie Bracke, Ghent Councillor for Sport. “No long passages far outside the city centre, but a varied course along the prettiest places in the city. From the Houtdok in the north to the KAA Gent stadium in the south, from the Blaarmeersen in the west to the Gentbrugse Meersen in the east. A real city marathon in other words!”
Sofico, international software company and loyal title partner of the Ghent marathon, is equally excited about the new course. “Our roots and heart lie in Ghent”, says Piet Maes, CTO and co-founder of Sofico. “We are therefore delighted to showcase our hometown as the stage for this fantastic running extravaganza. We are happy that all runners and their supporters will be able to experience all the beauty that Ghent has to offer on 24 March.”