Race Preview – Gold Coast Airport Marathon
The Gold Coast is bracing for one of its greatest ever sporting showdowns.
This year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Sunday 6 July, has so many captivating ingredients that stamp it as not only the best in the race’s 36-year history, but also as a rival to anything on the stellar list of sporting occasions ever hosted by this city.
First there is ‘the showdown’, the head-to-head clash of the men’s event’s equal course record holders, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi and Kenya’s Nicholas Manza.
Then there is the awarding of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label earlier this year to the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, which has ensured the best ever elite field.
Add the emotion of this race being the Australian swansong for national marathon icon Lee Troop.
Sprinkle in the fact that this year’s race is also the Australian Marathon Championships, along with a host of other domestic titles.
And what you have is the chemistry for an amazing Gold Coast Airport Marathon on Sunday 6 July.
Undoubtedly the clash between Kawauchi and Manza is potentially the show stopper. In 2011 Manza broke the long-standing 22-year-old-old men’s marathon course record previously held by Olympian Brad Camp, setting the new record at 2:10:01.
Last year most on course thought Kawauchi had just lowered that mark when he crossed the line. However after a tense few moments it was revealed he had in fact covered the course in exactly the same time as Manza.
This year few doubt that the 2:10 barrier will be smashed.
The awarding of the IAAF Road Race Gold Label earlier this year has been attributed to Manza’s decision to return to the Gold Coast, setting up an eagerly awaited showdown which is expected to not only produce a new course record, but also break the Australian all comers record of 2:09:18, set back in 1982 by Rob de Castella at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games.
Manza, who holds a marathon personal best of 2:06:34 recorded in 2011, will be looking to put the heat on Japan’s most widely recognised marathoner Kawauchi after placing fourth (2:12:01) at this year’s Prague Marathon in testing conditions, and, fourth at the Berlin Marathon in 2012 with a strong 2:08:28.
Kawauchi, who is also a sub-2:10 marathoner, having run a personal best 2:08:14 in Seoul last year, will arrive on the Gold Coast with at least six marathons under his belt for the year including four course records and an impressive seventh sub-2:10 career marathon.
Not only will both men be tested by each other but they will be challenged by the fastest elite field in the race’s history led by seventh all-time fastest Japanese marathoner and Olympian Arata Fujiwara who boasts a 2:07:48 personal best as well as fellow countryman and 2014 Tokyo Marathon third placegetter Hirokatsu Kurosaki.
Also throw into the mix American Jeffrey Eggleston, who was the second highest finisher amongst his countrymen in Boston this year and also Zimbabwe’s Wirimai Juwawo, who finished one spot ahead of local Michael Shelley at the 2012 London Olympics.
In all there are 13 starters in the men’s field who have a PB lower than 2:10.
If conditions are typically good, and considering the quality in the lead pack, there could be a genuine world class time this year.
There is no doubt the sentimental favourite will be 2006 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner, event ambassador, sub-2:10 marathoner, three-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games representative Lee Troop, who will bring down the curtain on one of the most celebrated and decorated Australian marathon careers at this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
Troop will finish on a sentimental note by representing his home state of Victoria in the marathon one last time with the Gold Coast Airport Marathon doubling as the Australian Marathon Championships for the first time since 2006, which also happened to be the last time Troop took the national title on the Gold Coast.
The women’s marathon record of 2:27:17, set just last year by Japan’s Yukiko Akaba, is also under threat with three runners having PBs below this mark.
Among those is the 2011 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner, Ethiopian Goitetom Tesema. However posing the greatest potential threat is her countrywoman, 24-year-old Yebrgual Melese, who debuted in Paris this year with a stunning 2:26:21.
The top Kenyan contender in the women’s field, has a PB of 2:26:52. If these three work together, it is not only the Gold Coast record that will be under threat, but also the Australian all-comers record of 2:23:14.
Adding further international flavour to the women’s field is China’s Lamei Sun. The university student will be the poster girl for the large contingent (more than 150) of Chinese runners who have flown in for the event.
Entries to all races close at 8pm on Friday July 4. Entry details are available on the Gold Coast Airport Marathon’s official site goldcoastmarathon.com.au
Anybody who can’t make it to the race precinct on Sunday 6 July can watch the marathon via a live digital telecast and see the live results at goldcoastmarathon.com.au
Also, the main pre-race hub for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from Thursday night, July 3. This is where the Check In Centre will be housed as well as the ASICS Sport & Leisure Expo.
The Expo will have more than 60 exhibitors with a wide range of health and fitness products. The Expo is open to the general public.
Another major highlight at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre will be the AirAsia Legends Lunch on Saturday 5 July. Appearing at the lunch will be a host of running greats including Rob de Castella, Steve Moneghetti, Pat Carroll, Lee Troop, Benita Willis and Mok Ying Ren.
This lunch is open to the general public with tickets available at goldcoastmarathon.com.au
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is a major highlight on Queensland’s event calendar, attracting people from more than 30 countries and showcasing the Gold Coast as a premier sporting event destination.
It is set to attract more than 30,000 participants of all ages and abilities across a number of events including the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Suncorp Bank 5.7km Challenge and Junior Dash 4km & 2km races.
Participants also have the opportunity to dedicate their run and raise funds for the official charity Cancer Council Queensland or for a charity of their choice.
For more information visit goldcoastmarathon.com.au.
Elite Athlete Start Field – Men
|Marathon PB||2:08:14 (Seoul, 2013)|
|Marathon PB||2:06:34 (Amsterdam, 2011)|
|Marathon PB||2:06:23 (Amsterdam, 2012)|
|Marathon PB||2:06:35 (Marrakech, 2013)|
|Marathon PB||2:07:48 (Tokyo, 2012)|
|Marathon PB||2:07:54 (Prague, 2009)|
|Marathon PB||2:08:35 (Rome, 2013)|
|Marathon PB||2:09:07 (Tokyo, 2014)|
|Country||Kenya (lives in Japan)|
|Marathon PB||2:09:10 (Tokyo, 2011)|
|Marathon PB||2:09:16 (Daegu, 2012)|
|Country||Kenya (lives in Mexico)|
|Marathon PB||2:09:44 (Los Angeles, 2013)|
|Marathon PB||2:10:39 (Fukuoka, 2013)|
|Marathon PB||2:11:57 (Boston, 2014)|
|Marathon PB||2:12:27 (Lake Biwa, 2011)|
|Marathon PB||2:12:38 (Danzhou, 2010)|
Elite Athlete Start Field – Women
|Marathon PB||2:26:21 (Rome, 2011)|
|Marathon PB||2:26:21 (Paris, 2014)|
|Marathon PB||2:26:52 (Barcelona, 2012)|
|Marathon PB||2:29:08 (Nagoya, 2014)|
|Marathon PB||2:31:15 (Tokyo, 2014)|
|Marathon PB||2:31:25 (Prague, 2014)|
|Marathon PB||2:31:28 (Tokyo, 2013)|
|Marathon PB||2:25:36 (Milan, 2007)|
|Marathon PB||2:27:55 (Beijing, 2012)|
|Marathon PB||2:29:30 (Nagoya, 2002)|
|Marathon PB||2:41:29 (Auckland, 2012)|