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July 9, 2014

I’m sure all of the readers out there have visions of hitting the big time or being on the same stage as some of the best of the best. In many sports and pursuits this will never be possible to anyone bar a select few whom are chosen through a scientific process thinking that what is seen on a computer will be translated in the performances of some poor young lad or lass. Fortunately most running events these days at least allow the populace to live some sort of dream.

They talk about the big marathons being based overseas, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to join those on the start line in locations such as New York, London and Tokyo amongst others. For now however the marathon with highest international acclaim (with apologies to Melbourne) would have to be based every July on the Gold Coast. I say highest international acclaim given the high Asian interest in the region in general, not just as a playground for athletic prowess. This year would mark the first time I would join the masses on this particular start line (and the third time I would take my place on a Marathon start line), and it would also be the most elite field that I would have in front of me.

It wasn’t exactly a start to the morning that went to plan after a Saturday that incredibly went without many hitches, even accounting for a delay to the flight from home due to fog which allowed me extra time sleeping in my usual window seat. I even managed to make use of the expo which I often find a little inconvenient given I usually want to just collect the bib and depart. But purchasing a visor to run in was certainly part of the plan, even if my intention was to head to a sports shop as opposed to a stall at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

After finding my way to my digs for the weekend in a hotel precinct in nearby Nerang, it was time for a change to the pre-marathon day routine. For Melbourne last year after bib collection, the day was filled in with lunch at Subway, a few bets on the horse racing, check in to the motel, and a reasonably early night following some light sustenance from the nearby 7-Eleven (an establishment where I would purchase race day fluids on race morning). In Canberra earlier this year, with the bib posted to me my day was filled with Subway, bets and football with a trip to the local supermarket after the game to buy pre-race fluids. This time the location of the accommodation was handy to not only a supermarket but also a pizza shop, so after buying the usual race day fluids I also purchased a pre-race pizza. Whilst this was the first time I had a pre race pizza for a marathon, there were a couple of shorter events where I’ve had a pizza before race day prior to a positive result.

The bib wall of fame at home, with the newest addition (number 5318) alongside the pair of red and white bibs.

The bib wall of fame at home, with the newest addition (number 5318) alongside the pair of red and white bibs.

For once sleeping before the race wasn’t a problem, I was snoring about 8:30 on the Saturday Night and arose as scheduled at 3:30 AM on Sunday Morning. I was nice and relaxed at this stage, there was plenty of time prior to the 7:20 start time, the clothing was laid out, all the devices were either charging or charged and a liquid breakfast was consumed without much trouble (I can’t stand eating solids before footy matches or running events, doesn’t sit too well in the stomach and I’ve never performed well after eating something solid). I was showered and ready to rumble at 4:30, and after making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything it was simply a case of ringing a taxi, walking out the door and playing the waiting game.

The waiting game turned out to be more nerve wracking than most other things I’ve participated in throughout my life. The initial call for the cab was made at 4:42 AM, and I thought it wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes for a taxi in a major centre that the Gold Coast is to arrive. After waiting 15 minutes I made a second call…..then came a third call at 5:07 which was an automated message confirming a car had been despatched. Not believing this I made an extra call at 5:16 AM (the cab still not having arrived at this stage) to confirm the pick up address worrying that the cab was in the wrong place. Eventually the cabbie turned up a matter of minutes after the call, and by the time it was 5:30 I was boarding the shuttle to get to the start/finish precinct in Southport.

By the time I made it to Southport and the start area, the Half Marathon was about to commence. Based on my experiences (but probably not in most world events) usually this event starts after the full marathon begins, but at least I was able to see the field off even if the sky was still in near darkness with the sun only starting to rise. When the field cleared, it was time to apply bandaging to the hamstrings and calf (I was always going to strap the hamstring, but the calf was a decision made on the Friday before the event).

Following bag drop and the consumption of a pre-race Gatorade, it was time for the dynamic warm-up, which was interrupted by a photographer looking for the pre-race snap. Despite some fiddling around with flash bulbs and angles, the final shot can be found at Then after completing the balance of the warm up, I was performing stretches on a public BBQ area when out of the corner of my eye I saw an Asian participant puffing away on a cigarette…..well there many days where I see first time occurrences.

With about half an hour prior to the start, I looked unsuccessfully for a water station before wandering onto the road to take up a start position. The journey was about to begin in earnest…..



COMING UP TOMORROW: PART 2 – The Race itself

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