The tradition of fast times, exciting racing and huge community participation continued over the weekend at the 40th edition of the Gold Coast Marathon.
The IAAF Gold Label event again attracted strong international fields and there was an extra buzz in the air with organisers offering a $40k prize money incentive for Australian marathon runners to encourage fast racing and records. Both boxes were ticked in the women’s marathon and only three seconds separated the top three in the men’s.
There were plenty of great performances by Australian runners with the highlights being Jess Trengove’s second place in a new personal best in the women’s marathon and Madi de Rozario continuing her dominant wheelchair marathon win streak with another win over the 42.195km journey.
Not be outdone, Jack Rayner won the half-marathon in a new personal best and in the 10Km there was a race record by by Jordan Gusman and commanding win by Madeline Hills.
In the women’s marathon, Ruth Chebitok and fellow Kenyan Agness Barsosio set the pace from the start, supported by a small pack of men and Trengove. The South Australian stayed with them past halfway before dropping behind the leading pair around 28 kilometres. Sticking with her own pace paid off as Trengove passed Barsosio in the final kilometres to take 30 seconds off her time from the 2017 London Marathon with a sensational new personal best of 2:26:31. Up front Chebitok ran a personal best of 2:24:49 while Barsosio hung on for third in 2:27:46.
Celia Sullohern, who was brilliant on the track at the Commonwealth Games, finished a credible fifth in 2:30:19. Sullohern was on track to also break 2:28 but struggled over the final kilometres.
Australian record holder Benita Willis (2:22:36) commented post-race that she expects Trengove to keep improving and the marathon will eventually be Sullohern’s best event.
Trengove was rewarded for her fast time with the $40,000 bonus that was split between any Australian men and women going under 2:10 and 2:28 respectively. Just 11 weeks after her Commonwealth bronze, Trengove was the only Aussie to hit the benchmark times and bagged the entire $40k for herself.
In true Trengove fashion and aligned with what was driving a lot of recreational runners over the weekend, she said that several charities will benefit from her total $48k prize money. Along with distance running in South Australia and putting ‘some towards saving for the future.’
Chebitok’s win was the best overall performance of the weekend as she became the first Kenyan woman to win the Gold Coast Marathon. In the process she smashed her personal best by one-minute and blitzed the previous course by 45 seconds.
The 27-year-old now moves to number four on the Australian all-comers list behind the medallists from Sydney 2000.
“I came to the Gold Coast because I wanted to improve my time,” Chebitok said. “Winning today was a surprise. The people cheering and clapping help make me run faster. I will be back again next year.”
Madison de Rozario continues to be Australia’s most outstanding performer in 2018 and she again got the win in the Wheelchair Marathon on the Gold Coast. Already this year she has her two gold medals (1500m and marathon) at the Commonwealth Games, her London marathon win, and equal world record for the T53-54 1500m at the Swiss Wheelchair Series.
Her comfortable win in 1:48:21 was the second fastest on the course. The expected battle with Commonwealth Games silver medallist Eliza Ault-Connell failed to eventuate at the finish as Ault-Connell had crashed, before continuing the race to claim second (1:51:22).
Only four-time Paralympian Josh George (USA) could beat de Rozario with his impressive 1:38:04 to claim the men’s race.. Defending champion Richard Coleman was second male in 1:59:25.
Kenyan Kenneth Mungara won his third Gold Coast Marathon in four years in a thrilling finish. The 44-year-old learnt from last year, when he was beaten in the finishing straight, to surge away from Japan’s Kenta Murayama in the last two kilometres to win in 2:09:49. He earnt AUD $20,000 for the win and $2,000 time bonus.
Murayama, 25, sprinted to line to finish only one second back to give the big crowd plenty to cheer about. Jo Fukuda (JPN) also finished fast and was only two seconds back in 2:09:52. Fukuda could well have been the champion but was sick in the later stages of the race after often leading the front pack. Defending champion Takuya Noguchi (JPN) moved from 13th at halfway to be fourth in 2:10:15, while Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kauwauchi finished ninth in 2:14:50.
Mungara’s 2015 time of 2:08.42 when he won for the first time, remains the Australian all-comers and race record. Only Australian Pat Carroll, who is a key member of the Gold Coast Marathon organising group, has more victories with four.
World Championship representative Jack Colreavy ran a personal best 2:17:48 to be the first Australian home in 14th and take out the IAAF Oceania Marathon title.
Sunday’s racing started with the Half Marathon and Jack Rayner produced a huge personal best for the win (1:03:12) over a strong field which included Collis Birmingham and Liam Adams. The 22-year-old Victorian was considered by some as the man to watch and he proved them right.
“I’m feeling absolutely ecstatic,” Rayner said. “It’s my second time running the half marathon. I did it in 2014 when I was a bit young and a bit silly, so today was a much better outcome. I knew I was going to beat my PB of 69 minutes because I have a lot more training behind me.”
When Kenyan William Chebor made the break around 16 kilometres, Rayner went with him and was too strong in final stages. Chebor was second (1:03:28) and Edward Godard was third (1:04:07) in what was his first ‘proper attempt at the half’.
Birmingham finished fourth (1:04:28) and Liam Adams did not finish.
Defending women’s champion Sara Hall (USA) produced a 10 second personal best (1:09:07) and the second fastest run on the course just behind Lisa Weightman’s 1:09:00 record, to claim another title.
Hall, 35, pulled away in the second half of the race from Sinead Diver (VIC) who finished second in 1:09:53, an almost two-minute improvement on her previous best. This performance was Diver’s third podium finish in the race,
The Lee Troop-coached Laura Thweatt (USA) filled this year’s podium in third in a PB of 1:10:17.
On Saturday morning, Jordan Gusman (ACT) got the Gold Coast Marathon events off to brilliant start by breaking Michael Shelley’s eight year old 10-kilometre course record. Gusman, 24, flew from the start and was always chasing the record. His time of 28:42 was just outside his personal best of 28:39 and took 11 seconds off Shelley’s mark. Legendary distance coach Dick Telford coaches both Gusman and Shelley.
Andy Buchanan (VIC) finished strongly in the final few kilometres to claim second in 29:23 ahead of South Australian Adrian Potter, third in 29:57.
Commonwealth Games finalist Madeline Hills (VIC) showed she was back in good form on the road with a dominant victory in the women’s 10km race in 32:35. Despite racing the first five kilometres hard and then having a short break before resuming, she was only 14 seconds off her road PB and just 18 seconds outside Lisa Weightman’s race record from 2012.
Marnie Ponton (NSW) placed second in 33:12 with Caitlin Adams (SA) third in 33:27.
40th edition success
In all there were over 27,000 competitors over the two days which also included junior races over 2km and 4km, plus a 15km wheelchair race. The 4,000 international competitors was a record as was the 6,700 competitors in the ‘sold out’ marathon. Thirty-one per cent of entrants were running in their first marathon.
The inaugural marathon winner in 1979 Eric Sigmont came back to complete the marathon again, as did 1980 winner Andrew Lloyd.
The support from spectators gave all competitors a great lift, many of whom had amazing stories as to why they were running. Many had started to #getmoving due to weight or health issues and others were running in memory of those who had passed away. There were over 400 clubs who entered teams and significant money raised for charities.
One of the most emotional points of the weekend was the support that every last competitor received right to the finish. After almost seven hours on the course, they were all cheered across the line by event volunteers, staff, spectators and distance running legends Steve Moneghetti, Benita Willis, Pat Carroll, Lee Troop and Michael Shelley.
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia
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Gold Coast Marathon 2018 | Results