This marathon was my second go at running a marathon in Queensland. I’d had my first DNF at Caboolture not long after returning from Chile – what seemed like a fun idea of running 400 metre loops of an historic village from dusk until dawn quickly turned ugly – not helped by the acquisition of a Northern American cold virus cultivated in a tiny tent in Antarctica! In Caboolture I’d managed about 14km and pulled the pin, so the choices thereafter were Gold Coast, or another marathon involving laps of a University north of Brisbane sometime in August. Gold Coast it was!
Gold Coast was on the calendar three weeks after Perth. This was my third marathon in five weeks and my plan from the outset was to take it very easy. Perth had not been overly pleasant and I was determined that this marathon would be as low key as possible.
My dear friend Hayley had already offered to come along as support crew. We have run many kilometres together and I was looking forward to the weekend away. We went out for our usual Saturday morning run the weekend before and it seemed to me there was a little spark around the idea of Hayley running with me rather than crewing. I was excited – we’ve done events together before and supporting one another comes very easy. On Tuesday Hayley messaged me – she’d entered! What a champion – entering a marathon six days out! I felt confident that however I may feel physically during the event, I’d get through with Hayley by my side.
We caught the early flight from Newcastle to Brisbane, and then drove to the Gold Coast. Our hotel was across the road from the expo and we walked over to pick up our bibs. Hayley has a good eye for recognising people and chatted and waved to other competitors both at the expo and during the event. I don’t know how she does it – most runners look the same to me!
We found a little Italian place for dinner and followed that with our complimentary glass of champagne at the hotel. I guess that epitomised the tone of the event for us – no stress and taking opportunities to enjoy the little things!
Race day morning we dressed and caught the complimentary shuttle to the start. Everything was extremely well done – even the toilet queue moved quickly due to the huge number of portable toilets. Rob de Castella gave some words of encouragement and then we were off!
The day was reasonably warm and there was only minimal shade on the course. Drink stations were plentiful and there was an extraordinary amount of crowd support over big distances. I loved the signs people had made like “Touch here for Power”, and the number of kids holding out their hands for hi-5s as we ran past.
We stopped to use the toilets on the foreshore and I checked Facebook where I saw a post from Hayley’s mother Fiona encouraging us. I took a photo and posted it; and Fiona and I became Facebook friends during the run!
We heard several times from our running group friends and there were plenty of “You got this” tags flying around! I tried to get Hayley to call that out to others but she declined for some reason!
Things went along fine until about 34km where my body started to complain on the slight hilly inclines. We slowed to a walk and kept this up fairly briskly until about 39km where we started to run once again. There were Encouragers on the course whose job was to encourage runners over the line. What a fun job that would be! The last kilometre was sensational – huge crowds and lots of cheering – it felt like we were sprinting but in reality we were really only going faster than walking! We came over the line to a big clap from Rob de Castella, so of course we pounced and asked him for a photo.
The trip back to the hotel was again very easy except we were chatting so much we missed our stop! Never mind – we were the second last stop on that line and so just stayed on the shuttle at the last stop – the driver changed ends and off we went again!
The hotel had been inundated with late checkout requests and was unable to accommodate us. Instead they let us use the shower facilities for the gym. We used these facilities really well! Hayley was involved in a push-up challenge in the days around the marathon and was compelled to get these done despite having just run 42km. I sat on the floor in the change room and took photos of her as evidence of her mad undertaking and we laughed and laughed.
Back at Brisbane airport we went to the Qantas lounge and made good use of the free food and alcohol. Hayley spotted a celebrity (like I said – she’s good at spotting people) and whittled down the possibilities for who it could be until she determined it was an actor from Underbelly. It was a shame to have to leave the lounge when they called our flight!
So Gold Coast was never about racing and all about having a good time. And we did!
Gold Coast Airport Marathon was number 16.