Why are we telling you about it now? Well, we noticed that the early bird discount offer for (quite pricey) race entries ends on 23 June.

The Festival has long been loved for its tropical winter climate and stunning course. With the Marathon starting just before dawn, the track is a veritable masterpiece.

With seven events – ranging from a 2.5km Hero Run to a certified marathon – there’s a course to cater to all running palates. And this year, that includes those looking to soak up some culture with their cardio.

For the first time in the event’s 17-year history, it will coincide with the 13-year-old Strand Ephemera, a seaside sculptural festival that transforms Townsville’s 2.2km Strand beach into a temporary outdoor art gallery that attracts up to 100,000 visitors over 10 days.

Shane Fitzgerald, Manager Gallery Services, said that the event showcases the diversity of Australian artwork, and puts it on display in the most breathtaking setting.

“People can expect a wide array of works – from large sculptural pieces on the water, on the sand and the grassy foreshore, to delicate pieces waiting to be discovered, digital projections, sand sculptures and 3D chalk drawings,” he said.

The Ephemera should provide a more beautiful backdrop than ever for the running. Normally, the views across the bay to Magnetic Island, the support from the infamous party house, and plenty of on-course entertainment is enough to make for a unique running event – but serial racers say that the Ephemera will be a point of difference, giving them even more to discover than in previous years.

Running Festival committee president Tony Gordon, said the marriage of the Running Festival and the Strand Ephemera would only boost the distinction of both events.

“I’ve heard of a lot of art enthusiasts travelling to Townsville for the Ephemera, who have realised the Running Festival is on the same weekend and jumped at the opportunity to get involved in even more while they’re in our region,” he said.

Strand Ephemera will be held from 31 July – 9 August with the Running Festival on the morning of Sunday, 2 August.