Category Archives: Gold Coast Marathon
It’s that time of the year again, and entries for the 2017 Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM17) are open now! The official website has all the details. Happening the first weekend of July, it’s basically a week full of running on the Gold Coast (GC) with not only the Half and Full Marathons on Sunday, there’s the shorter distances on Saturday. The information on various categories can be found here.
While early bird fees run until April 2017, you should really start looking for best deals in flight tickets, and accommodation options. If you’ve a group of 20 and above, it makes sense to go by way of group registration to enjoy discounts on registration fees. Details on group registration here.
So what are your traveling options to the Gold Coast?
- Self plan
- Travel package by Holiday Travel & Tours
More on the 2 options below. But first, some tips if you’re traveling to the GC for the first time.
The most direct way to GC from Malaysia is via Air Asia X. Flight from KLIA2 takes approximately 7 hours 40 mins. You’ll arrive at the Gold Coast Airport (the title sponsor!) in Coolangatta, located just 40 minutes away from Surfers Paradise.
If you’re going to be staying in an apartment, you’ll be happy to know that apartments on the GC are, more often than not, fully furnished – kitchen, utensils, washer, dryer, etc. So, you really don’t have to pack too much. What you need to pack on top of your running gear and 2 sets of apparels are sun block, hat, sunglasses, and camera! Oh, do bring along some old race tees for layering before the race start. These you can remove minutes before the gun goes off – they’re collected and washed before being donated to charities.
GC is 2 hours ahead on Malaysia on the clock during the winter.
6:30am/5pm during the winter. Start your morning runs at 6am to catch the sunrise!
I’ve not experienced anything colder than 8 Celcius in my 6 years there. It gets cooler up in the mountains (yes, GC isn’t just only about the beaches and theme parks). Highest temps during the day are around 18-22 Celcius. Weather’s usually dry in the winter but 2016 has been wet a day after the marathon. It gets warm under the sun and UV levels are high so be sure to wear a hat, sunglasses and have sunscreen applied.
A wide variety, including Halal food. Surf and turf, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Korean and Thai and even Malaysian are easily found in town. I love the take-away options available at the local supermarkets like Coles and Woolsworth though. You’ll see what I mean when you’re there. Take-aways allow you to save a little and besides, you can have a potluck back at the apartment. My family and I enjoyed the fresh seafood at Peter’s Fish Market so much we went there a couple of times when we visited this year. I’m looking forward to checking out the much-touted Chevron Island Seafood after the race!
I’m not that much of a shopper but other than the usually touristy trinkets, the newly expanded Harbour Town Premium Outlet offers an extensive variety of brands. It’s located quite near to Surfers Paradise and if you’ve rented a car, it’s even closer to get to.
Plenty of options. There’s the G:Link tram which runs through up and down the coast, covering the major spots. Surfside buses ply the rest of the areas. If you’re in a group, it make sense to rent a car. Not only is it an affordable option, with a car you’ll be able to explore the beautiful highlands, beaches north and south of Surfers with greater flexibility. Rentals are available right from the airport. Con-x-ion airport shuttle are available for pre-booking, if you’re an independent traveler.
The self-plan option is pretty self explanatory. Basically a DIY and offers the most flexible schedule, it allows you to stay where you like, plan your own itinerary and extend your stay – all according to your budget. GC is easy enough to do all the above and information is plenty on the Internet.
First-timers on a limited time, may want someone to make the call for them. If that’s you, Holiday Travel & Tours is again offering that option for you. On top of the standard packages, do check with them on discounted fares for park entrances, rides and more. Here’s the link to download the brochure. According to the brochure, the Thursday night flight to the GC has been designated the Gold Coast Airport Marathon flight, with fun and games planned on-board!
Now, if your mind’s made up to run GCAM17, you really need to add yourself to the GCAM17 Team -Malaysia-In-Training Facebook Page here. We’ve kicked off some weekend short runs, all very low key since it’s the holiday period. Things will move up a notch or two when the new year kicks off. The team look to welcoming new and old friends to the group because it’s always more fun and motivating to train in a group, especially for the weekend long runs and track repeats. We’ve over the years added so much information to that page that will hopefully help you plan your stay and race while you’re there. Be sure to also click on the “Files” tab on the same page – that’s where we’ve put up all the pertinent links to tourist hotspots, hotels and fully-furnished and equipped apartments which we’ve stayed before. Malaysia had one of the highest overseas participation during GCAM16 – over 260! If you’ve questions, anything at all, be sure to ask on the page. We’ll be very happy to answer them, like how you can actually run the 10K (or for your kids, the Kids Dash or 5.7K) on Saturday as a fun run before the main event (Half or Full Marathon) the next day!
A Shake Down Run is planned on Saturday July 1st evening. This is sort of like a meet-up photo session, followed by a short 3-5K run to get the mind and body into performing their best. Of course, if you’ve any last minute questions, some of us veterans will be on hand to answer them. We will post details of the Shake Down Run in the same FB page nearer the event.
GCAM on Social Media
Plenty of info, trivia, photos/videos and running tips shared on the event sites below.
That’s a bit much info for now but rather than rambling on, it’s time for you to commit to GCAM17, and make all the necessary arrangements for the July runcation. If you’re like me, marathon training for the first half of the year is easier than the second. Work has a tendency to develop into a deluge from August right up to December. There’s, of course, the unpredictable Quarter 3 and 4 weather too which may throw a spanner into the training.
With that, the team and I hope to see you for training soon and over at the Gold Coast!
This year’s trip to the Gold Coast was a mixed outing for me. On one hand, I was thrilled to finally have the family along this time, and we also saw a record number of Malaysians in the race. There were also a number of firsts for me: visited a couple of theme parks, a wildlife sanctuary, drove the streets of the Gold Coast and up to Mt. Tamborine and an unforgettable cruise along the calm waters off Runaway Bay.
On the other hand, with the nagging PF impeding a more aggressive approach to training (although I did run the risk of greater issues by hitting 130K over 8 days prior to taper week), I wasn’t able to run the race I wanted to. I started the marathon with a heavily taped foot and an anti-inflammatory tablet post Saturday’s shakedown run when there was still pronounced pain. I really don’t want this to sound like an excuse for a below par performance, so this will be the only part I make reference to the PF being an impediment. The race was run and I didn’t hit the goal time and that was that. After analyzing the past 2 years’ splits and training, some things will have to change before my next marathon.
Touching down at Coolangatta late Friday morning after a 5-hour sleep, I could afford a more leisurely bedding-in period, adjusting to the weather and the addictively languid, yet for some reason exciting, vibes the Gold Coast offers. This was my 6th consecutive running of GCAM and I’m ever closer to the 10-year club! There were over 250 Malaysians for GCAM16, so while there were many of us on the same flight, there were just as many independent travelers outside the tour group who were already in Australia. Lunch was at the Currumbin Life Saving Club right next to the Elephant Rock Lookout where the views were just stunning all-round. Next port-of-call was of course the Expo for the race number collection. Everyone was very disciplined and made it out of there on time for the shuttle ride to the Mantra Legends Hotel for check-in. Very smoothly managed by Holiday Tours & Travel (HTT) so far. As much as I wanted to sort out my stuff in the room, a run to stretch out the legs appeared more appropriate at that time and after rounding up a few from the training group, we headed towards Broadbeach before returning by way of the Gold Coast Highway to the hotel. Not before running into superstar Yuki Kawauchi (who would place a second behind the winner Kenneth Mugara on Sunday) jogging in a polo top! He acknowledged my “Gambare Kawauchi-san!” shout with a big smile and a resounding “Hai!” and a big wave. Such a character! After an early dinner of bacon pizza with Jeanie and family and the training group guys, and getting some drinks from the supermarket, I was back at the hotel to call it a day.
Saturday meant the arrival of the photogenic duo of Nick and CY. While CY needs no effort in looking good for the camera, Nick has vowed to hug everything in sight with a vengeance. As arranged, the plan was to meet at the Surfers Paradise arch for the Shakedown Run. Before that, I needed a quick apparel change back at the hotel following a fantastic lunch at The Fishhouse Restaurant. By the time I hustled there, a large group had already congregated and everyone looked set to really enjoy themselves the next day. Plenty of photo ops ensued but we were only able to cover just half the planned distance due to some road works on the way to Main Beach. No one complained though as they probably had an eye on next morning’s race. Dinner consisted of cappuccino and a super-large plate of pasta – in that order. With the race gear packed, there was one final thing to do which was to tape the right foot up before hitting the sack at 10:30pm.
I leapt up at the first sound of the 4:15am alarm and after the bathroom rituals, wolfed down 2 energy bars and half a bottle of sports drinks. By 5:20am we were at the hotel lobby ready to move out.
Race morning was expectedly cold. As I stood at the tram stop at 5:30am with the guys, I was glad to have layered up very well – a Saucony tri-top, 2 disposable race tees, a Saucony hoodie and EXO windproof jacket. I also had my Saucony beanie and gloves on, so I was warm and toasty. We got on the first tram to arrive and 20 minutes later we were at Southport joining the hordes of runners walking to the race precinct. The Halfies were just flagged off so we had to wait a little before crossing over to the main field. Security presence was strong and there was better human traffic control this time around.
It wasn’t quite as windy this year and we could afford to shed our layers earlier before going through the warm up routines. Along the walk to the start corrals, I joined a number of locals in watering a tree. Considering the level I was at, I’d downgraded my original goal to finishing in any timing under 4 hours, which was still dicey given the circumstances. I positioned myself in front of the 4-hour pacers, a position I would maintain until the 38K mark (more later). GCAM is known for being a sunny race, at least all the previous 5 editions I’ve ran have been so. This year would be the same. Temps hovered around 15-17 Celcius early part of the race and peaked at 20 Celcius when I finished. Real-feel was hotter since it was cloudless.
As it turned out, I ran very well hitting all the splits necessary for my original goal time (OGT) right up 26K before I started dropping 20 seconds per K. It may not sound like much but with over 16K left to run, that trend would mathematically add up to more than 5 minutes lost. In reality however, one would usually lose between 30 seconds to a full minute per km. Or more.
By 30K I was a full minute behind the OGT. By 35K the deficit had risen to 3 minutes. I was well and truly beaten way before I even hit the turnaround at Runaway Bay. The cramps on both quads and calves were so severe that I thought I’d fall. Since the little steps of the portable toilets could potentially trip me over, I decided to just pee in my shorts. Water was plentiful to wash it off anyway and I needn’t waste anymore time struggling in the toilet than I’d already lost.
I’d stopped looking at the watch for some time but the thought of my kids kept me going. I didn’t want to give up like this. Just when I started to rally myself, the gun-time 4-hour pacer and his charges passed me! Sigh…
If you’d seen me then (thank goodness for the absence of photographers along that final part of the route!), you’d agree that my running form was far less graceful than a person in crutches attempting a Swan Lake routine. In the haze of pain and self-deprecating thoughts I was lavishing on myself, a Race Motivator suddenly popped up, urging on another fellow sufferer next to me. Her words of encouragement resonated with me and kept me going.
Along with the many supporters along the course, the kids I high-fived earlier, and the record number of times my name was cheered, I credit this Motivator for getting me across the finish line in 3:57.58 (net time). An implausible yet very fortunate timing given how bad a shape my quads were in. I also think my decision to pee on the go worked in my favor as well. I would have wasted 2 more precious minutes had I ventured to the potty.
Once back at the agreed meeting point between the stage and the baggage tents, there was so much happy news of awesome results all round that my disappointment was completed forgotten. Nearly everyone ran their best timings in GCAM16. Jessie got her Boston Qualifier, which really wasn’t a surprise given her standout (albeit compressed) training. Plenty of sub-4 performances by many too. It was a truly wonderful moment to be there listening to their race accounts and I couldn’t be happier for them!
With my 31st marathon done, I can strongly attest that it doesn’t get easier. You battle Father Time and his baggage – slower recovery, higher chances of injury among them – in pursuit of improving yourself. It’s time to reconsider another approach to training rather than to doggedly pursue the old ways. The marathon remains my focus because I know that I can do better.
Despite the rather poor personal showing, this year’s GCAM has been a runaway success.
- Record overseas participation, including from Malaysia.
- Better race day weather than last year.
- Crowd support continues to grow.
- Thrilling finish in the men’s marathon. Looks like Yuki Kawauchi (whose mom raced a 3:48 marathon in the same race!) will be returning yet again next year – he’s obviously hooked to the Gold Coast !
- Greater number of runners in the training group (please join us for training!)- made plenty of new friends with whom I’m sure will continue to train with us. Team Malaysia truly personified the “Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun” tagline! Just check out the photos below!
- Post-race holiday with family and friends were super enjoyable. We drove, cruised, ate plenty of seafood, trekked (a little!), got close to the local wildlife, and took in the cool and clean air of the mountains and sea.
I would also like to thank Khim, Tourism and Events Queensland and the organizing team behind GCAM for their hospitality and support to Team Malaysia. Not forgetting RSH-Saucony Malaysia and AfterShokz Malaysia for the gear. And of course, much appreciation to my family for their undying support during my marathon training – they may not understand the reasons behind the early morning runs and grouchiness of missed workouts but they’ve always pulled more than their share of chores around the house. It is only fair that I should always do my best and honor their sacrifice in every race that I do. I know the turns along the GCAM course like the back of my hand and I’ll be back to do it justice next year!
I spent much of today just chilling out and kneading the troublesome calves. Not forgetting getting some supplies from the nearby Coles and Woolies, and get some race-packing done. Lunch was at The Fishhouse located at Burleigh Heads. An excellent recommendation by Selin.
With the rest of the group arriving at the Gold Coast, what better way than to try rope in as many as possible for a group photo near the iconic Surfers Paradise followed by a short Shake Down Run along the scenic beachfront on race eve? As planned, we’re all gathered at the spot at 4:30pm and got all the fun shots done before heading off for a relaxing 1.3K towards the Main Beach direction before picking up the pace for the remaining 1.3 back to the start. We would’ve gone further a little had the path not been closed. With almost 30 of us, you can bet we made quite a scene with our presence (and noise!) but it’s all fun as you can probably tell from these photos!
We went off our separate ways to clean up, have an early dinner before getting the race gear ready (taping up the legs, in my case) for some #GoodTimes the next day. That’ll be my updates for now. The next one shall be my race report, maybe when I get back from the holidays. I’ll still post photos up to the GCAM16 – Team Malaysia Facebook page whenever I can.
Here are some of the fun photos taken that evening. If you missed running GCAM this year, you can still follow the race via Webcast. Head on here for the webcast link. And of course, there’s always next year’s race which incidentally will be the 39th edition of Australia’s first IAAF Gold Label race!
Wish us luck for the race tomorrow!
G’day from the sunny Gold Coast, Australia! Weather’s great here, air is fresh and crisp, and you can get around in t-shirts and shorts during the day before making a grab for the warmer clothing when the sun sets. With over 250 Malaysians running GCAM this year, coordinating group photo sessions were expectedly tricky.
A handful of travelers were, in fact, already at various locations in Australia (Cairns, Brisbane, Melbourne) on Thursday while the majority will be arriving Friday and even Saturday.
The runners were all excited to soak in whatever the Gold Coast has to offer, from the stunning scenery, attractions to the pre-race excitement at the Expo. Here are some of the photos taken at KLIA2 (before departure), at the Coolangatta Airport (we couldn’t find Borobi, yet!), at the Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Club for a scrumptious lunch before heading to the Expo for the race kit collection (and some shopping). Can’t wait for the family to arrive on Sunday!
If you missed running GCAM this year, you can still follow the race via Webcast. Head on here for the webcast link. And of course, there’s always next year’s race which incidentally will be the 39th edition of GCAM!
I’ll also be uploading photos to the GCAM16 – Team Malaysia Facebook page. So do add yourself there too if you’d like to follow or train with us.
Saturday 25 June
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon continues to grow as a major sports tourism event for Queensland with a record number of runners from overseas set to hit our shores next week, Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones announced today.
With a week until entries close, more than 3,250 runners from 59 overseas countries are registered for the 38thGold Coast Airport Marathon to be held on 2-3 July.
“Attracting a record number of visiting runners from overseas is a great outcome for the Gold Coast,” said Ms Jones.
“Events like the Gold Coast Airport Marathon showcase the Gold Coast to international visitors and to overseas markets.
“Since the marathon was accredited with an IAAF Road Race Gold Label in 2014, there has been even greater interest from elite and recreational runners.
“The event is expected to attract more than 7,000 international visitors to the Gold Coast, which will be a great boost for local tourism operators.”
Ms Jones highlighted the growth from emerging markets such as Greater China and South East Asia as the main reason for the record international numbers.
This year also marks the first year of the landmark agreement between leading Chinese sports media company Sina Sports and Events Management Queensland.
“China represents a huge marketing opportunity for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon moving forward,” said Ms Jones.
“We had one participant from China in 2010 and we are closing in on 300 this year. There is also record participation from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.
“Japan continues to provide the most number of visiting runners as it has for nearly two decades and New Zealand will also go close to a record number.
“It is a really exciting time for the event as it continues to grow in popularity as a destination marathon.”
Ms Jones said the global media exposure the Gold Coast Airport Marathon now receives has provided a significant boost to the profile of the event and to the Gold Coast.
“Television coverage of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon last year generated 1,500 hours of air time with a potential reach into 850 million households across 129 countries,” Ms Jones said.
“Adding to this is a live stream of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon available around the world and our ability to engage with a global audience on social media.
“Not only are media partnerships raising the profile of the marathon, but also of the Gold Coast as a destination for international visitors.
“We will also host more than 50 media representatives from Japan, Greater China and South East Asia this year, generating further interest.”
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is organised by Events Management Queensland, a major event management company wholly owned by the Queensland Government as part of Tourism and Events Queensland.
Events Management Queensland Chairman Kerry Watson said he was delighted with the growing interest in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon from overseas.
“The participation numbers we attract from overseas markets is the result of long-term marketing strategies in collaboration with Tourism and Events Queensland, Gold Coast Airport, City of Gold Coast, Gold Coast Tourism and major sponsors.
“We take a long-term view with our marketing and what we do today is laying the platform for even more visitors to come and experience the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in future years.
“The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has created another significant focus on this destination, and we plan to ensure the Gold Coast Airport Marathon adds value to that focus on the Gold Coast for many years after.”
This year’s 38th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July. Entries for all races on the program close on Friday 1 July.
For more information visit goldcoastmarathon.com.au
For information contact:
Stephen Lock, Media Consultant, Events Management Queensland
Phone: 07 5668 9811 Mobile: 0408 124 694 Email: email@example.com
Jacob Bush, Marketing Executive, Events Management Queensland
Phone: 07 5668 9801 Mobile: 0448 188 927 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In case you’re unaware, entries for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2016 (GCAM16) are open now! The official website has all the details but you can also hit the link below for details on the categories available, entry fees, and race pack collection locations.
For Malaysians, 2016 presents a unique opportunity to visit and run Gold Coast by virtue of the school and Raya holidays. As a result of the good fortune, my family will be joining me for a long-overdue holiday there. Our tickets and apartment are booked and we’re already looking forward to July next year!
See the photo above? Spot the runners? That’s just after the start at Southport. From there, runners will be heading south, firstly across the bridge before hooking left towards Main Beach (where the yachts are moored) and then keeping right towards Surfers Paradise, always with the beach just on your left right up to Burleigh Heads before doubling back to Runaway Bay to the north. A short but challenging 6K from there will then take you to the unforgettable finish by the water!
What to expect in the Gold Coast in July? It’s winter but pretty mild and dry in comparison with, say Japan’s winter. Thus it’s easy to pack and with temps between 10 to 20 Celcius, there’s really no need to bundle those thick jackets into the luggage. A fleece jacket would typically suffice as a warm top. You can even get by with a t-shirt when walking around during the daytime. It’s also sunny with clear blue skies, so don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses and caps. For the race, it’s practical to go with a cap, sunglasses, short tee or vest, and shorts. You can keep warm before the start with layers of old event t-shirts which you can discard for charity.
Now, if your mind’s made up to run GCAM16, you really need to add yourself to the GCAM16 Team -Malaysia-In-Training here. Training will start after the year-end holidays and the team look to welcoming new and old friends to the group because it’s more fun training in a group, especially for the weekend long runs and track repeats. We’ve over the years added so much information to that page that will hopefully help you plan your stay and race while you’re there. Be sure to also click on the “Files” tab on the same page – that’s where we’ve put up all the pertinent links to tourist hotspots, hotels and fully-furnished and equipped apartments (which we’ve stayed before, love the washer-dryer facility!). If you’ve questions, anything at all, be sure to ask on the page. We’ll be very happy to answer them, like how you can actually run the 10K (or for your kids, the Kids Dash or 5.7K) on Saturday as a fun run before the main event (Half or Full Marathon) the next day!
Then, if you’ve not done so already, you’ll need quickly contact Holiday Travel & Tours to find out about the travel package they’ve put up for Malaysian travelers. If you’re traveling with a group of friends or with families, it may make better sense to start looking for your flight tickets (only Air Asia X flies to Queensland) and accommodation (the tips and links found on our FB page will be helpful on where to look).
A Shake Down Run (a short 3-5K) is planned on the eve of the race too. Details in the same FB page. While there’ll be a little running to get the mind and body into the racing mood, there’ll be plenty of photo ops too.
That’s a bit much info for now but rather than rambling on, it’s time for you to commit to GCAM16, and make all the necessary arrangements for the July race-holiday. If you’re like me, marathon training for the first half of the year is easier than the second. Work have a tendency to develop into a deluge from August right up to December. There’s, of course, the unpredictable Quarter 3 and 4 weather too which may throw a spanner into the training.
With that, the team and I hope to see you for training soon and over at the Gold Coast!
Following the marathon PR in the Gold Coast last year [race report], plans were made to return to Australia’s Sunshine State for a repeat. Except for a couple of events to keep the running going there wasn’t any “serious” training program in the second half of 2014. Things got going only after the first week of the 2015 Chinese New Year celebrations. An 18-week program was already drawn up based loosely on the Hanson’s plan. 18 weeks seemed a little lengthy but I wanted the initial couple of weeks to be a sort of a bedding-in period.
A more aggressive goal was plotted for GCAM15. To put into perspective, I needed to average 20 seconds per kilometer faster than GCAM14 for a 13-minute goal PR. It appeared a little far-fetched at the onset of training but on the other hand, I hadn’t been sedentary either since GCAM14. I had some fitness going into it. Chalk one up for staying active the year-round!
Other than a week off due to a mild flu in the first month of the program, I was healthy throughout which was unlike the past years. It was not easy sustaining 5:39 pace after Chinese New Year much less a 5:19, but the weekend long runs eventually brought the stamina back. Gradually, 5:30 wasn’t too much of an issue and with more miles packed into the legs, the level of optimism started to rise.
One of the contributing factors that brought about the improvements could be attributed to the group training. We’ve had the GCAM training group for 4 years but it was in this year’s group that saw a larger number of runners who joined us for the weekend workouts. Training in a group setting certainly made those 5-5:30am mornings much easier. I’m sure, from the photos above, you’d agree that we had fun too. Due to the new goals, there was a need for more variety in the workouts, from boring long runs to more exciting (and lung-busting) stuff like hill repeats, track intervals and progressive long runs. Finally, unlike last year, I raced very little this time around, with my first race of the year ran only in April in the form of the Shape Run. With 3 weeks to the race, the group ran the 26K Marathon Simulator in Putrajaya, a workout which everyone nailed. That did much good to raise the level of confidence and set things up for a good showing. The Simulator was a fantastic culmination to the months of training, double workouts and early morning runs.
Fast forward to race-eve, and with all commitments wrapped up and the shakedown run taken care of in the form of the Southern Cross University 10K, a few of us gathered for a pasta dinner at Vapiano which doubled as a meet-up with Yvonne and Bin who traveled up from Melbourne to run the Asics Half Marathon. It would be an early night for all of us. My race packing had been done on Friday so it was all very quick for me – 8 gels, the Jabra Rox, iPod Nano, Kinvara 5, compression socks and shorts, shades and cap. Disposables were 3 race t-shirts and cutoff tube socks as arm warmers for the cold start. Breakfast was a Hammer bar, cup noodles (for the salt), and a banana. I’d drank a small cup of black coffee at the hotel so I skipped the cafe at the race precinct. I stayed hydrated while waiting to check-in my baggage (600ml bottle of Powerade) before I made a visit to the loo and getting my warm up done. Finally the group took a slow walk to corral. I would be running solo as Nick’s condition was preventing him from pacing together, which was truly unfortunate for the both of us. He had trained very hard (much harder than me). We were at our fittest and would’ve benefited from running together and pulling each other along. As it was, I positioned myself in front of the 4-hour pacers (Corral C). With my pace table tucked under my watch there was no need to rely on the pacers. I was confident in keeping to my MP anyway.
The strategy was to generally run by feel. Through the miles logged, I could peg the 5:19 pace pretty easily without the need of constant monitoring of the watch. The distance was broken down to several key checkpoints – the 15.5K Burleigh Heads u-turn, the halfway mark, the 30K mark and the finish. Hydrate from my handheld bottle (High-5 Carb/Protein mix) up to the 10K station and subsequently at all aid stations with water and Endura. Gels every 5K. This was as I’d executed during GCAM14, so other than the new goal time, whatever I’ve adopted this year wasn’t a new approach. I even wore the same top, shorts and shoes.
The sun had warmed up sufficiently that I could discard my layers. All signs were pointing to a hot day. Closed my eyes to refocus and we were off. The atmosphere and energy were excellent, even greater than previous years’. I crossed the start line in 2 minutes and after a 5:34 first K, I was able to keep to a good clip. Unlike races back home, nearly everyone around you were moving at the same speed – slower runners behind, faster ones in front. So while there were many runners around you, everyone was moving in unison with little obstruction. The first 5K was to average 5:31 and no problems there.
The next 10K segment to the 15.5K Burleigh Heads u-turn was to be run at 5:19, and it went like clockwork. Heart rate was very comfortable hovering mid 150s. Legs were fine and I kept sipping at my bottle of High-5. Again, the highlight was the level of support. We’ve cheer-leading teams which made plenty of noise and there were just many more folks out watching and cheering us this year.
As the race progressed, it was becoming apparent that the day would be a hot one. The forecast put it at 23 Celcius after a 12 Celcius start. It was largely cloudless, so I felt the sun rays penetrating on my skin. The halfway mark, as always, was around the narrow Millionaires’ Row and until last year, I’ve always had an aversion to this section. The reason isn’t so much attributed to the location but rather this location was where I knew, in 2011 and 2012, that I’d started too fast! I’ve since learned my lesson by not running like a headless chicken that early on in the race. Plus, through miles and miles of running, I eventually developed a sense of pace from my breathing and how my body feels. The watch was merely there to validate what I already know. Pacing awareness can be developed by anyone.
There comes a time in every race when the runner has to make the call. Make a go for it or what army recruiters would say, “Be all you can be” or stick to a conservative plan. I held back until 37K last year. A year on and stronger, I had to decide earlier this time around. I had the honor of speaking to several elites at the Garmin Legends Lunch the day before the race during which I was seated next to Adam Gordon, elite triathlete and Garmin ambassador. I asked him, at which point of the race I should make the call to make a go for it, if I still felt good? He replied, “When you wake up and have your breakfast.”
My decision? I stuck with the plan after taking into consideration the weather conditions. With the halfway mark reached in 1:53 against the planned 1:54.55 (1.5 minutes ahead of schedule), I should just keep the proceedings up to the 35K point before hitting it hard for a strong finish. At least, that was the plan.
Despite drinking consistently I’d yet to pee (unlike last year) by the time I returned to the Surfers Paradise stretch. As progress was still on-track, I just kept going. Supporters and their kids and pets were truly out in full force rallying the runners on. There was still plenty of work to be done but it wouldn’t be long before I got to the dreaded 30K point.
The race precinct was madness – left and right, the crowd were just spectacular. There was no cloud cover and even though the temps were only hovering in the 22-23 Celcius region (no issues for us from the tropics actually), we bore the full brunt of the sun due to the absence of cloud cover. Being baked in the sun wasn’t fun and despite staying hydrated (1.5 cups every station) it wasn’t providing enough relief to keep the effort going. I truly started to struggle from the 32K mark, when I took my first walk break as I drank up. The quads and hams were misfiring, and there were indications that they were cramping up. Running the Marine Parade stretch towards Runaway Bay was so exciting last year because I was holding back before finally pushing it all the way to the finish. Things were different this time around. I was beginning to get a little antsy as the goal pace was starting to slip. By the 35K mark, I was off target by 4 minutes.
Alternating splashing water on my head and face, I was shuffling and walking with not-so-wholesome thoughts coursing through my mind. Staring at a potentially calamitous timing, the available options weren’t that appealing. Even the lyrics in my playlist seemed to suddenly turn depressing!
- Throw in the towel (more time spent in the hot sun, cramps, pain, unwholesome thoughts, etc…), or
- Fight (less time spent in the hot sun, cramps, pain, unwholesome thoughts).
Dammit, I didn’t train 4.5 months for nothing! What would my kids think of me, I thought. Thus, it came down to a lot of shuffling and walking when the tugging on the quads became worse. This went on until the final water station located before the McDonald’s outlet. With the final stretch coming up, I gritted my teeth towards the finish. Supporters were yelling my name and with that kind of enthusiasm, there was no way a runner could walk.
I’d stopped looking at my watch after 37K and was a bit surprised to find that my 29th marathon ended at 3:55:33, a measly 3-minute improvement, a massive 10-minute gap from what was targeted. I was disappointed that the body couldn’t respond appropriately to the conditions. I’m unable to put a finger to what could’ve been the cause. Perhaps there wasn’t a single factor but a combination of the 10K the day before on top of the heat on race morning. Whatever it was, the end was anti-climatic. It was a humbling experience and I’ll learn. The positives were all there – the training were good, the pacing was great, the gear performed as expected. I will not repeat the same mistakes again the next time. For 2015, I’ve PR’d in the 10K and the Marathon and the next goal will be to drop the Half Marathon timing in December.
On a much happier note, the training gang returned awesome PRs. How awesome? Think gargantuan 50-minute improvements! Even Foo, who at one stage was relegated to the role of team chef due to his injuries, ran superbly. The months of training has been made easier with their company. I’m also glad for the company of Comrades Marathon alumni, Frank and Zijill, who added some elements of hardcore-ness to many of our workouts. I’ll bet there will be a few sub-4 and sub-5s for many of them the next time around! Nick, you better get your leg treated as there’s unfinished business to attend to, on top of new green shoes to be running in!
Congratulations go out to the race organizers who yet again did a wonderful job in running the show, and to those thousands of volunteers and supporters out on the streets, thank you! Not forgetting, my heartfelt gratitude to the hardworking folks at the Tourism and Events Queensland, who took great care of me and letting me be part of the event. This has truly been a GCAM15 to remember.