A $40,000 marathon incentive for Australian runners, record international entries and over 27,000 competitors across the weekend, will ensure fantastic elite racing and community spirit for the 40th anniversary of the Gold Coast Marathon.
Jess Trengove, Celia Sullohern, Madison de Rozario, Collis Birmingham, Liam Adams, Madeline Hills, Victoria Mitchell and Jordan Gusman will be just some of the elite Australians in action. And for those fans not able to line the course on the Gold Coast there will be full coverage of the weekend including a live feed of the marathon on various digital channels (details below).
Eight races will take place including the Gold Coast Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Gold Coast Airport Fun Run, Garmin 4km Junior Dash and Garmin 2km Junior Dash.
Gold Coast Marathon
The Gold Coast Marathon became the first Australian marathon race to be recognised as an IAAF Gold Label Road Race in 2014 which, along with the flat and fast course, helps attract top international fields.
The Australian elites aren’t only pushing for the prestigious title they are chasing a big cheque. Organisers have offered a $40k prize pool to be shared between any Australian men who runs sub 2:10 and women who go under 2:28. Someone could go home with $40k on top of the placings prize money.
The incentive for running fast has got the attention of Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jess Trengove, who has a personal best of 2:27.01 from the London marathon in 2017.
“The $40K incentive is a special opportunity for Australian marathoners and has created an exciting buzz around this year’s event,” Trengove said. “My goal for the Gold Coast Marathon is to run a personal best time.”
Celia Sullohern who produced sensational performances over 5000m and 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games has a personal best of 2:29.27 from the Melbourne marathon and could again do something special on the Gold Coast.
“I honestly don’t know if I can run that 2:28, however a PB would be nice,” Sullohern said. “In my race, it’s important for me to go out fairly quickly to see where I am at, and if I’m in PB shape or better, that would be great.”
The fastest performance by an Australian woman at the Gold Coast Marathon was 2:29.14 by Virginia Moloney in 2017, just three years after taking up serious training.
The top seeds for the women’s race are Kenyan stars Agness Barsosio (2:20.59) and Ruth Chebitok (2:25.49). They will be striving to become the first Kenyan woman to win the Gold Coast Marathon in its 40-year history. There are also title contenders from Japan and the United States. The last Australian women’s winner was Lauren Shelley in 2009.
In the men’s event, three past international winners are chasing the $20k winners’ purse. Defending champion Takuya Noguchi from Japan, Kenyan 2015 and 2016 winner Kenneth Mungara, and 2013 winner Yuki Kawauchi from Japan are all back on the Gold Coast. Mungara holds the race record with his 2:08.42 in 2015. He will be joined by four other Kenyans who have run sub 2:10.
Realistically, the Australian and New Zealand top runners will be racing for the IAAF Oceania Area Marathon Championship. David Criniti (PB 2:17:57), Jack Colreavy (PB 2:18:32) and two-time Oceania Marathon champion Jonathan Peters (PB 2:20:05) will head Australia’s hopes.
Two-time Commonwealth Games champion and Gold Coast local Michael Shelley will be ‘jogging’ the 10km race on Saturday and cheering on the marathon runners and soaking up the atmosphere on the Sunday.
The course is effectively the same as that used for the Commonwealth Games, however the runners will head south from the Broadwater Parklands at the start due to the large number of competitors. It is the first time that marathon entries have been exhausted with 6,500 expected to start on Sunday.
The women’s wheelchair marathon will feature Commonwealth Games gold and silver medallists Madison de Rozario and Eliza Ault-Connell (nee Stankovic).
Only 13 seconds separated de Rozario and Ault-Connell over the 42.195 kilometres at the Commonwealth Games. The expected close battle and the fact both women have been in sensational recent track form suggests the race record of 1:43.45 held by Christie Dawes will be under threat..
After winning the T54 marathon and T54 1500m at the Commonwealth Games, de Rozario won the London Marathon and equalled the T53-54 1500m world record in Switzerland last month.
“I’m looking forward to racing on the Gold Coast course again which holds such good memories for me,” de Rozario said.
“The crowd that supported us along the course at the Commonwealth Games was fantastic, they knew all the athletes by name, so hopefully it will be another big crowd on Sunday.”
Ault-Connell also raced in Switzerland in May and set a T54 800m Australian record. Remarkably this was her first time racing overseas in over a decade, after the 36-year-old took a big break from the sport to have three children.
In the men’s wheelchair marathon four-time Paralympian and defending champion Richard Coleman will be challenged by Jake Lappin. At the Commonwealth Games Lappin impressed on the track with T54 1500m bronze and then backed it up with sixth in the marathon. It will be interesting to see how they fare against Kurt Fearnley’s incredible race record of 1:30.18 from 2016.
The ASICS Half-Marathon on Sunday will also provide exciting racing. Outstanding competitor Collis Birmingham makes his Gold Coast Marathon weekend debut and his PB of 1:00.56 sits him just behind Kenyan top seed William Chebor (1:00.49). Dejen Gebresalassie was third last year and after finishing just behind Birmingham at the World Half Marathon Championships in March he could upset his fellow Australian. After finishing fifth at the Commonwealth Games marathon and second in the half marathon in 2017, Liam Adams could be the top Aussie and on top of the podium.
American defending champion Sara Hall is hungry for more success in the ASICS Half Marathon.
“My goal is definitely to run faster than last year (1:10.30) in the ASICS Half Marathon,” Hall said.
“I love the course, the weather is great, and I have felt inspired and had a lot of fun both times I’ve run it. Starting in the dark and then seeing the sun coming up over the Broadwater is really unique.”
Fellow American and 2:25 marathon runner Laura Thweatt and Japan’s Hanae Tanaka (1:09.18 PB in 2013) will lead the international charge.
Australians Sinead Diver (1:11.40) and Ellie Pashley (1:11.43) are seeding fifth and sixth respectively. Diver has been on the Gold Coast podium twice, placing second in 2014 and third in 2016. Lisa Jane-Weightman holds the women’s record of 1:09.00 from 2010.
The weekend of racing will start on Saturday morning with the South Cross University 10km, where in good condition the race records could be under threat.
While Michael Shelley is ‘jogging’ the 10km to enjoy the atmosphere, Jordan Gusman will be chasing Shelley’s race record of 28:53 which was set in 2010. Gusman, who owns a personal best of 28:39, has already set several track personal bests in 2018 and with both men being trained by Dick Telford there is extra interest in the record attempt.
“The Gold Coast has been one of my main target races this winter,” Gusman said. “I’m taking it really seriously and want to have a crack at a fast time given it’s a flat, fast course with good competition.”
The 24-year-old will face Andrew Buchanan (VIC), fresh from his fourth placing in the recent Sydney Half Marathon in 1:06:00, and Max Stevens (SA) who recorded a PB of 29:35 in the Launceston 10K earlier this month.
The women’s 10km race on paper looks like a battle between Madeline Hills and Victoria Mitchell. After the challenging Commonwealth Games track competitions, the women could nudge the race record if they’ve returned to their best form. Hills’ 10km road PB of 32:21 is just behind Weightman’s race record of 32:17 from 2012. While Mitchell set her best of 32:59 when she won on the same course in 2015.
Hills is refreshed after taking a break following her eighth on the track in the 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games.
“I took a decent holiday after the Commonwealth Games including a few weeks off running completely, Hills said. “It has helped me to recover and recharge, and I’m looking forward to racing on the Gold Coast on Saturday.”
While the Australians will be hoping to do well on home soil, the entire weekend will have a great international major event feel. Of the 27,000 competitors over 4,000 of them are internationals from 46 countries.
Community Participation and Inspiration
When competitors were asked for ‘their story’ on the online entry, there were many references to being inspired by the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games marathons or from the enjoyment of participating in the community Gold Run on the final day of the Commonwealth Games.
Many entrants have been training for the races over the weekend to improve their physical and mental health, or as a major event to do with family, or to raise money for charities. This year more than 31 percent of marathon runners will make their debut over the 42.195km distance. And many are doing their first 10km or half-marathon, with the GCM2018 weekend being a major goal to train for. Many other participants refer to the Park Run’s around the country as their inspiration to enter the Gold Coast race.
The youngest runners will be 5-year-olds in the 2km dash on Saturday and the oldest runner entered is an 89-year-old man from New Zealand who will run the 10km on Saturday. The oldest entrant in the marathon on Sunday is an 81-year-old from Japan.
The inaugural marathon winner in 1979 was Eric Sigmont. The winner in 1980 was Andrew Lloyd who went on to win gold in the 5000m at the Auckland Commonwealth Games. Both will be competing this year as the Gold Coast Marathon celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
How to follow
There will be full news coverage on goldcoastmarathon.com.au website and the @GCMarathon social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) #GCM18 throughout the weekend
The live webcast of the Gold Coast Marathon will be from 6am to 10am on Sunday, via the YouTube page.
Live results will be available from goldcoastbulletin.com.au
- The Gold Coast Marathon also incorporates the IAAF Oceania Area Marathon & Half Marathon Championships. QLD titles will also be determined.
- The annual Gold Coast 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.
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia