Singaporeans William and Ashley took part in the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia for the first time this year, and they share with us what they love about the race that seems to be the most popular overseas marathon for Singaporeans.
Q: How did you decide on, and plan your race trip?
Ashley: The plan to run a marathon was made two years ago, when I picked up running to get out of my sedentary lifestyle. I used to be a couch potato and detested exercise. I googled for a marathon that was taking place during my birthday weekend and found out about the Gold Coast Marathon. It was the perfect choice, fancy having cool weather in July! The trip was booked with Scenic Travel, one of the official travel partners listed on GCM website. It was quite a breeze as they took care of race registration, travel visa and race day logistics.
William: Ashley wanted to commemorate her birthday with a maiden marathon. I thought it was a brave decision for someone who picked up running a couple of years ago. I decided to sign up too, so that we could train together.
Q: Is this your first overseas race? How was your race experience?
Ashley: The GCM 2019 is my first marathon, but not my first overseas race, as I did a 5km trail run in Kenting, Taiwan last September.
Being my first marathon, the GCM was certainly memorable. The race started wet and cold, but along with the rain came a beautiful rainbow. The crowd support was amazing. People came out of their houses to offer runners sweet treats, and I lost count of the number of children who gave me high-fives. It was an awesome race experience; I couldn’t have asked for more.
William: I’ve done triathlons overseas before but this is my first running race overseas. The supporters in Australia didn’t disappoint with their energy and non-stop cheering. The experience ranked right up there as one of the most memorable races that I have done.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who is attempting to run an overseas marathon for the first time?
Ashley: Just keep running! I made sure I increased mileage gradually from about four months before race day. On average, I ran 40km a week for two months, 50km a week for a month, and 60km a week for a month. The long runs are important - I did three 30km runs before race day which were torturous but essential. Although the long runs don’t necessarily improve timing or endurance, I became mentally prepared for race day through the long sessions.
In terms of doing an overseas marathon, checking up on race day weather and elevation would be one of the first things to do. Plan your race day wardrobe and practise running in the same gear several times to make sure you’re comfortable. A short recee run when you arrive at location would be useful too.
William: My training blocks were hampered by a cycling accident which put me out of action for around a month. When I recovered I returned to training progressively even though it meant I will be behind schedule leading to GCM. I’m not a marathon expert, but sound advice would be to have a training plan in hand, be consistent and to keep in mind not to do too much too quickly as that could increase the risk of injury.
Q: Did you stay on in Gold Coast after the race? Are there places of interest or activities that both of you experienced during your stay in Gold Coast and would recommend?
Ashley: Yes, we stayed on in Gold Coast for a couple of days. The hot air balloon experience was interesting and highly recommended. We enjoyed ourselves at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as well. There are photo opportunities with koalas. We got to carry them, much to our delight, and free-roaming kangaroos for visitors to interact with. And of course for the shopaholic Singaporean, Harbour Town outlet mall should not be missed.
One of Australia’s fastest marathons, the biggest headline of this year’s Gold Coast Marathon came when Japanese runner Yuta Shitara set a new record at the IAAF Gold Label race with an amazing 2:07:50 finish time. He lowered the previous record of Kenyan Kenneth Mungara (2:08:42), set in 2015.
While last year’s numbers spiked past 27,000 on the back of the event’s 40-year anniversary celebrations and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games hype, this year’s eight Gold Coast Marathon race categories still attracted a total of 26,287 participants. This was including 3678 overseas competitors, as the event continues to grow in popularity with each passing year.
This year’s event started spectacularly when Melbourne’s Jack Rayner kicked clear in the later stages to win the ASICS Half Marathon in 1:02:30 ahead of strong competition from Japan’s Yuki Sato and Yuma Hattori.
From well before the 6:00AM start of the ASICS Half Marathon, the Gold Coast’s Broadwater Parklands were awash with colour and excitement as the atmosphere that so many elite runners and weekend warriors speak about was in play. Through the darkness emerged images of warm-up routines, excited conversations around expectation and nervous glances.
The Half Marathon posted the greatest number of entries, with 9830 runners. The Full Marathon had 6620 runners, with the 10km had 5179 people line up at the start. The rest of the entries were made up of runners from the Gold Coast Airport Fun Run and Garmin 4km and 2km Junior Dashes.
The fun, family face of the Gold Coast Marathon was never more evident than on Saturday. There was still the highly competitive side to race weekend, especially in the Southern Cross University 10km Run.
However across the Gold Coast Airport Fun Run, which captured all ages and activity levels, through to the exuberance exploding in the Garmin 4km and 2km Junior Dashes the spirit of the Gold Coast Marathon shone through.
Find out more at https://goldcoastmarathon.com.au/.