IT may have rained on the Gold Coast Marathon’s 41st parade, but the conditions failed to halt a flood of inspirational performances, a race record and an exciting emerging Aussie Olympic campaign.
The biggest headline came via Japanese speedster Yuta Shitara who smashed the Gold Coast Marathon record, taking out the IAAF Gold Label race in an amazing 2:07:50.
He lowered the previous mark of Kenyan Kenneth Mungara (2:08:42), set in 2015.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
However, in the backdrop to Shitara’s brilliant race plan was an event that captures accolades and attention across the globe.
This year’s eight Gold Coast Marathon races attracted a total of 26,287 entries, including 3,678 overseas competitors, as the event continues to achieve a long-term upward trend.
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.
Race hosts, Events Management Queensland, are predicting continued strong growth, which results in an annual injection of more than $28 million into the local economy.
Across the weekend there was an avalanche of incredible performances – from the grassroots to the elite.
Sunday’s races started spectacularly from an Australian perspective with Melbourne’s Jack Rayner reveling in the rain, kicking clear in the later stages to win the ASICS Half Marathon in 1:02:30 ahead of Japan’s Yuki Sato and Yuma Hattori.
While in the women’s ASICS Half Marathon, Sinead Diver led home an Aussie trifecta. Both performances will have positive repercussions towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
There was a similar story in the Wheelchair Marathon with Australian Paralympians Bill Chaffey and Madison de Rozario back on the Gold Coast and mining more gold.
From well before the 6am start of the ASICS Half Marathon, the Gold Coast’s Broadwater Parklands were awash with colour and excitement.
The trademark ‘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.
For thousands, from across Gold Coast suburbs to 57 countries across the globe, this was their one day of the year. From first timers to veterans, there was a palpable camaraderie through the preparation areas to the starting line.
Numbers across all categories were again strong for this year’s 41stGold Coast Marathon including 9,830 entries in the ASICS Half Marathon, Gold Coast Marathon (6,620), Southern Cross University 10km Run (5,179), Gold Coast Airport Fun Run (3068) and a combined 1,575 in the Garmin 4km and 2km Junior Dashes.
The weekend’s events were an emotional occasion for chair of Gold Coast-based company Events Management Queensland (EMQ), Kerry Watson, who had announced that this year’s Gold Coast Marathon would be his final in the role.
Mr Watson has led EMQ – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) – since 1998 and has overseen the global success of the Gold Coast Marathon and the Pan Pacific Masters Games.
Mr Watson thanked all participants of this year’s Gold Coast Marathon events – ‘runners, walkers, wheelchair participants, volunteers and spectators’.
“To our valued sponsors and supporters, event staff, contractors and 1,200-strong volunteer team, I acknowledge your continued commitment and contribution to this event. Without you, we could not deliver the Gold Coast Marathon to such high standards,” he said.
“I congratulate all placegetters and championship winners… your performances have inspired us all and I hope to see you back in 2020.”
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.
See: Success for Pompeani and Barber in 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.