Gold Coast Marathon 2018
Trip & Race Reporting by FatBird Anthony Sum
Photo Credits @ Gold Coast Events, Marathon Photos, TEQ, Scenic Travel, ET Tey, Ronnie, Beverly
When the Gold Coast Marathon 2018 (GCM18) registrations were announced to be closed a few weeks ahead of race day, we were happy to find out that SEA had more than 1000 participants with nearly 50% coming from Singapore alone. This is the first time that Full Marathon registrations at GCM is full before race day. One of the key reasons could be the special 40th Anniversary of the GCM which every runner around the world has been looking forward to be a part of.
Structured Training & Race Preparations
Team FatBird began our GCM18 campaign from Dec 2017 at the SCSM Race Expo to market the special Run Gold Coast Package (put together in collaboration with Tourism Events Queensland (TEQ) and Scenic Travel). That was followed by a training workshop in March 2018 and then our 12-week Ops Kookaburra GCM Training Program to prepare those who signed up with our Run Gold Coast Package to perform their optimal best at GCM18.
Our travel group flew in by Scoot on Thursday evening and arrived Friday morning for GCM REPC and Hotel check-ins at the Watermark (mainly 7-day package) and Mantra On-View (5-day package). An excellent seafood carbo-loading dinner welcomed our tribe on Friday night to ensure our bodies were well fueled for race day.
I organized a 5km shakeout cum conditioning run on Saturday morning right about 7:20am. This was for our runners to get a good sense of the actual weather conditions on Sunday race morning, as well as to get our bodies and equipment prepped to be race ready. The well turned out group was led on a run along Surfers’ Paradise and given a short pre-race briefing before we headed for our hearty buffet breakfast back at the Hotel. It was to be an easy Saturday and early night as we would prepare our race armour and wake up super early on Sunday morning.
Coming into the Gold Coast Marathon 2018 with insufficient mileage and lack of quality preparations, I was not gunning for any PB nor BQ (I already BQ-ed for 2019 at SCSM17 with a 3:35h timing in hot, humid Singapore conditions). My goal was to see through as many of our FatBird and Kookaburra runners to their PBs and BQs as possible, and I will be a happy camper.
I managed a few hours of sleep before waking up early to good weather conditions (not too cold) at 4:30am. Had a cuppa coffee and a piece of croissant with ham sandwich (provided in the breakfast box from the Hotel) before getting changed into my Nike Zoom Fly. I went down to the lobby to meet with the team to catch the transfer coach to race site with Beverly. By the time we arrived, the Half Marathon was just flagged off. We waited for a good 10 minutes before we could cross the street to the TEQ Race Tent to meet up with the rest of the folks.
After a bout of quick warm up drills, followed by a piece of banana, bag deposit and final porta-loo visit, I was ready at Corral A (Sub 3:30h) queuing just behind the 3:20h Pacers. My race plan was to average 4:40h pace for the first 21km before deciding to increase the pace if I felt good for a possible PB. I wished Clarence all the best as he was the one I saw within sight at the start line. After the Australian National Anthem was sung, the race was promptly sounded off at 7:20am to cheering crowds on both sides of the main road at Southport.
Within the first 3km, I caught sight of Kong Soon, Han Chee, Matthias and a few others who were running at sub 4:40h pace. While the 3:20h A Pacer upped his pace to 4:30min/km, I decided to stay with the B Pacer till I got more comfortable. The morning was not too cold and I got warmed up pretty quickly. The first 5km passed on smoothly, with the main pack of 3:20h runners still bunched up and moving well. The crowds at Surfers’ Paradise (6.5km mark) were cheering with delight as we passed, giving us the extra energy boost. Ben gave a shout out and I acknowledged with a thumbs up!
As I neared the 15km U-turn mark, I spotted Alan on the other side running very strongly behind the 3:10h Pace group. I was managing an average 4:40h pace and had Matthias for company. I took my first gel as planned. This time, we were facing the sun as we proceeded in the direction back to Southport. I was still feeling comfortable, soaking in the electrifying atmosphere provided by the highly enthusiastic crowd and bands of music playing.
I reached the Halfway mark (21km) along the rich housing estate in about 1:38h. That was about the time I did at GCM 2017 at the same point. The crowd seemed a tad thicker this year. I could still run freely although I tried my best to stay in the top of the cambered roads at that stretch. I took an electrolyte tab and set my sights on hitting the next milestone of 30km on target pace.
Along the way, I had a few interesting characters who were running similar paces to me for company. That gave me some incentive to sustain my pace whenever I felt tired and showing deteriorating form. It felt a bit laborious after I crossed the 25km mark. I reminded myself to keep up with my running form and pace. I felt much better as I approached back to Southport at around the 32km mark. My energy returned with the cheering crowd as I ran alongside Matthias over the hump to the encouragement of the MC strategically placed at that crucial point.
The final 10km would be the more challenging Northern segment overlooking the Golden arches of MacDonald’s in the distance. This stretch is where it makes or breaks any attempts for PBs as it is also the actual ‘marathon start’ to separate the prepared marathoner and the ones who may hit the wall anywhere from that point onwards.
I was happy to just slow slightly to avoid any onset of cramps or hitting the wall too early. I had just consumed my 2nd gel at the 30km mark. That would give me sufficient fuel to run strong till at least 36-38km. Crossing the small bridge at about 34km without incident heightened my awareness that I could still complete the race in a possible (although very small) PB. Then the twitches started to come at about 37km. I had to slow further to about 4:50h pace to stave off the onset of fatigue. I took a final gel at the 38km mark, and proceeded on at 5:00h pace. I knew the PB is off by then. I was just hoping to maintain pace till the finish without any major cramping issue.
As I run down the final 1km, I could hear the runners around me shouting with elation that they are making it at sub 3:20h. The sub 3:20h B pacer was about 500m behind us then. With 250m to go, I perked up my tired body to maintain as best a form I could to finish in nett time of 3:19. That was 1min off my 2017 GCM PB of 3:18. I was pleasantly surprised that I could complete without much pain and hard effort and still do a sub 3:20h to BQ by 20min+ and also qualify for many of the Marathon Majors with age-group timing qualifications.
I caught up with Alan at the refreshment point. As we munched on our orange slices, I was happy to hear that he did a massive PB of 3:15. This 40th year anniversary finisher tee and medal were very pretty. As I waited at the Hospitality Tent, I warmed each time our runners came back with very good news of their PBs and BQs achieved. I was especially impressed with the 4:18h PB achieved by my wife Beverly, who only returned to do a Full Marathon after 8 years with my encouragement and training guidance.
Many of the FatBirds achieved excellent PB and BQ results. Clodagh 3:48h, Daphne 3:31h, Han Chee 3:23h, Jessy 4:12h among some of the ones I could recall.
Many congratulatory well wishes were exchanged followed by group photos for all marathoners in our group.
The TEQ (SEA) Hospitality Tent provided much needed post-race refuel in the form of chicken wrap, bananas and bottled water – appreciatively consumed by our team of tired but happy GCMers who have put in their all and have expended every ounce of energy in their road to achieving the excellent set of performances.
We were scheduled for a scenic 10km post-race recovery run on Monday morning to The Spit. Instead, we did a modified 5km run as many of the runners had to miss due to blisters, minor abrasions and aches sustained from the very hard effort they put in on race day. Still it was great for the small group of us who could make it to get our blood circulation going and clear some of the lactate wastes to avoid DOMS symptoms.
In line with the GCM theme of “Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun”, Bev and I went about our Monday post-race doing lots of walking around Harbourtown and even strolled all the way back to Surfers’ Paradise from there. It was quite enjoyable tracking the Glink (train) route and soaking in the sights of the beautiful scenery and million-dollar retirement homes around the Gold Coast township.
With the race over, we enjoyed lots of ‘sinful’ but delicious foods in the form of Fish & Chips, Ben & Jerry’s Waffle Ice-Cream, Asian Fusion-Food Buffet. Lots of additional calories, fats, salts, sugars which will take a few weeks to work-off once we return back to training.
On Tuesday, we enjoyed a full day of walks/tours to the Tamborine & Lamington National Parks and nature reserve areas. Tree-Top and Gallery Walks were the order of the day. Lots more ingestion of delicious local fare of scones for tea, BBQ for lunch and Middle-Eastern specialties for dinner took us into new levels of post-race food-loading not quite experienced by me in a long time. Still, it was well worth it and as a reward for Bev to eat to her heart’s content after a good performance at GCM18.
We Will Be Back!
We were home by Wednesday evening, capping a wonderful and fruitful 6 days of Good Times at the Gold Coast Marathon 2018.
Many of the runners so enjoyed their GCM18 experience that those who did well and some who did not get their desired results fed back to me – “We will be back for Gold Coast Marathon 2019!”