The Gold Coast Marathon 2019
Trip & Race Report by FatBird Anthony
Photo Credits: Scenic Travel, TEQ SEA, Andy, Girard
Gold Coast Marathon (GCM19) saw the largest contingent from Team Singapore ever, over 500 enthusiastic runners participating in this popular marathon event down under.
The registration numbers started rolling in once our Gold Coast Registration site and booth at the SCSM18 Race Expo was established. Members from Team FatBird and Scenic Travel helped to drum up interest and support for the event with an attractive Run Gold Coast Travel & Training Package – providing the best support and preparations for marathoners who signed up for our package.
Ops Kookaburra 2019, the 12-week structured training for cool weather marathons ran from April through June and was well attended by many first time runners to Gold Coast, mostly seeking to run Personal Bests. They were taken through a regime of extending their aerobic base with proper and effective pacing and racing techniques to secure good times at Gold Coast Marathon. TheKookaburras did not disappoint when most of them scored large Personal Bests, even for the few maiden marathoners.
The Pre-Departure briefing 3 weeks prior to race was well attended by all registered GCM19 participants from Singapore where they were given travel and race instructions, as well as important race preparation tips.
Day 1 (REPC)
We Scooted-in on The Dreamliner into Gold Coast Airport, and was whisked away to Pacific Fair shopping mall for brunch while the Scenic Travel agents went to the Race Expo to collect our race packs.
I headed for Betty’s Burger, the local version of those similar American special burger joints. The burger tasted as juicy and yummy as I last had it in 2018. My tummy started to come alive in preparation for more gastronomic delights in the next few days in Gold Coast.
Gold Coast Marathon Race Expo
After good food and chit-chat with the Singapore group members, we were brought to the GCM Race Expo.
Our packs were already lined up for us to just pick up, and we headed straight into the Expo area for some good shopping of race apparel and accessories.
We also had a chance to sample the isotonic drinks of Official Race nutrition sponsor, Endura. There were also granola bars for samples and various activities to try out.
Time passed quickly. After a group photo at our usual place (on the stairs of the Convention Centre), we checked into the Novotel Surfers Paradise Hotel (previously it was known as Grand Chancellor). The rooms are much improved and spacious, and overall service levels have improved since that last time I was here in 2016.
Carbo-Loading & Preparations
The Seafood (Carbo-Loading) Welcome Dinner for our group was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. The runners sang praises of the good selection of carbs and protein with the right amounts to make it an effective carbo-loading meal of quality.
After the group photos and short briefing of the route, we did a up and down 5km run to acclimatize to the weather and decide on our final race day armour.
The winds were unusually strong this year and there were concerns from the runners on how to tackle the situation. After the run, we had a good breakfast at the Hotel and discussed our race plans and strategies for combating the inclement weather and windy conditions.
This Shakeout Run was to prove important and instrumental in helping the runners overcome the challenges presented on race day, allowing most of them to do well by executing their adjusted race plans.
5.7km & 10km Races
There were a couple runners in our group who participated in the 5.7km Fun Run and 10km Challenge in the early hours of Saturday.
They encountered bouts of showers which they overcame to do well, and was pretty excited about the whole experience of running in the rainy and cooler weather without much fatigue and exhaustion as originally feared.
They now have the confidence to do even better at the longer distances, especially when the weather would not get much worse than what they had gone through.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and doing final loading of essential carbs, protein and electrolytes. An early light dinner and off to bed at 8-9pm for sufficient rest for the big day.
Race Day (Half & Full Marathon)
Woke up at 3am for breakfast and preparations before proceeding to the Hotel Lobby for race transfer bus to SouthPort precint for the Half Marathon race start at 6am.
The TEQ SEA tent was already set up when we arrived at 4:45am, with bottles of water and food wraps for post-race refuel.
The weather was warmer than in previous years. However, the skies were cloudy with the threat of showers.
The atmosphere amongst the runners were light, and all were looking forward to a good race.
After some warm-up and visit to the porta-loo, we proceeded to check in our bags (a stone’s throw away from our tent) before entering the start corrals at 5:30am.
Half Marathon Race
After what felt like a short wait, the race started promptly at 6:00am.
The start was a tad slow as the runners were still trying to get into their paces.
The crowd thinned somewhat after about 3km of running. I settled into a 4:40min/km pace, trying to get into 4:30min/km pace.
My nose was still blocked from my recovering flu, making breathing laboured.
I decided to maintain a more comfortable level of breathing which could only allow me a 4:35min/km pace.
My energy levels were high as I completed the first 10km in about 46min.
Knowing that my HM PB was not about to be close, and not wanting to push too hard risking cramps, I was happy to continue to maintain the 4:35 pace through to the finish.
As usual, the runners at GCM were running in very steady paced groupings. The supporters were out in full force, even in the wee hours of the morning and in less than ideal weather conditions.
The roads were slippery from the rainfall in the early hours, making it a tad harder for my NB1400 to have sufficient grip on push-offs. There were intermittent bouts of drizzle and showers throughout the second half of the run, but they were well contained.
The route was all quite familiar to me as it shared main portions with the FM route, which I have ran in the past 3 years with good results. Before I realize it, we crossed the 15km mark and I was on pace to finish in about 1:38h (I did this timing in 2013).
As we crossed the bridge onto the straight for the final 1km, the supporters and cheers grew louder. I picked up the pace slightly and ran strongly all the way to cross the finish in 1:37:09. Not a Personal Best for HM, but was the best HM time I’ve done in all of my HM races at GCM.
I was satisfied and contented to complete the race safely with no pain, enjoying every km of the run along the whole way.
This is one of the most enjoyable races I have done in a long while.
Half Marathon PBs
I collected by finisher tee and medal, and proceeded to the finisher tent. Since the time was before 8am, I decided to take the free tram back to the hotel for a quick wash-up and some breakfast before going back to the race site to welcome the Full Marathoners back and taking the group photos with Team Singapore and SEA.
At the hotel, I met up with many of our HM finishers who did very well to score PBs, with a number of them thanking me for the last-minute tips dispensed to them. It was heart-warming to see their delightful faces and appreciative requests for photos.
The Full Marathon Race
After a hearty breakfast, I made my way back to race site. As the FM started to stream in, I welcomed the early Kookaburras who did so very well to score impressive PBs and record timings.
The tent was slowing warming up with more Team SG marathoners coming back with good news.
There was a hive of activity with all the sharing of trials and tribulations, and intermittent taking of victory photos with various groups.
There were lots of good sharing of the unusual weather they encountered, and how they overcome strong winds and stave off cramps in the final stages of their races to achieve their optimal performances.
Such were the grit and determination of the Team SG marathoners to give their all and ensure the best possible outcome, given that they have put in so much training and preparations for this important race.
The celebratory group photo was duly taken at 12pm. By then, most of the Team SG and SEA marathoners have returned victoriously.
As we left the place at 1pm, many of the runners were still so charged up and full of energy that they were continuing with their sharing of race experiences. Such is the allure of running one of the most enjoyable international marathons, The Gold Coast Marathon.
Back at the hotel, I was busy reading the initial facebook posts of our victorious runners and congratulating them on a race well executed.
The immaculate race organization helped to make GCM19 another memorable experience in spite of the challenging weather conditions.
This GCM trip, although a short one for me, is certainly one of the most unusual (weather-wise) and relaxing (I had sufficient quality rest) I’ve experienced since my maiden marathon race in GCAM 2011.
I also broke records of sorts with the amount of chocolates and goodies I’ve consumed over 3 days, giving me all the sugar rush and extra calories (which I was already prepared to load up on during this off season period). Incidentally, I put on an extra 3 kg after the trip, which was well worth it.
Overall, it was a most enjoyable and fruitful trip for me, making many new friends from the marathon and media communities alike.
I look forward to coming back to Gold Coast for many more wonderful experiences and good times in the years to come.