Les Blake loved the Gold Coast Airport Marathon as much as he loved running!
He would make an annual expedition to the event with his wife Raewyn from their home town in Tokoroa on the North Island of New Zealand.
It would fit in perfectly as an annual visit to see three of his children Vanessa, Adam and Natasha, grandchildren and extended family, who reside close to the Gold Coast.
Sadly, this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon marks the first anniversary of Les’ passing aged 64 after a six-year battle with prostate cancer.
On Saturday 1 July, exactly one year on from his passing, the extended Blake family will come together with friends and other supporters to participate in The Star Gold Coast 5.7km Challenge.
They will form the Blue Dragons team to participate at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation – a team they created a few years ago to raise awareness about the disease.
Daughter Vanessa Hogan, from Eagleby, said this year will be extremely special and emotional for the family as they run and walk together in memory of Les and in support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Les Blake running in the ASICS Half Marathon in 2014 alongside his daughter Vanessa Hogan (#5495) and daughter-in-law Abby Blake (#5496). (Photo courtesy of Marathon-Photos.com)
“Dad loved this event as much as he loved running,” Vanessa said.
“It means so much for us to run together in his memory and for the anniversary of his passing.”
Vanessa will be joined by her mother Raewyn, husband Adrian, two daughters Kaelani, 13, and Tamsyn, 10, brother Adam and sister Natasha, amongst a growing list of extended family to honour Les at this year’s event.
“Dad was an inspiration to us all with his achievements,” she said.
“It was so exciting for him to see us sharing his passion for running and completing events with him on the Gold Coast Airport Marathon weekend.
“We plan to wear his finisher’s medals from past Gold Coast Airport Marathons in this year’s event.
“He will be so proud to see us all in the event he loved.”
Les ran at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon a total of eight times and wife Raewyn completed in four walk events as part of their annual holiday to visit their kids and grandkids.
He ran the half marathon in his first year in 2005 before completing five successive marathons on the Gold Coast from 2006 to 2010. This included a best time of 4:07:34 in 2007 at the tender age of 55.
It was in 2010 that Les was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Despite having his prostate removed, the cancer returned in 2012 continuing his long battle with the disease.
This did not dampen Les’ love of life and running though as he took part in numerous half marathons and endurance events in 2013 and 2014 including the ASICS Half Marathon on the Gold Coast.
“We participated together in those years and started a team called Blue Dragons to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer,” Vanessa said.
“Dad is my inspiration. I remember one of those years he fought on to finish the half marathon on the Gold Coast and fell into mum’s arms on the finish line.”
Les was not always an athlete, discovering his love for running at age 50 when he quit smoking and focused more on his health.
Vanessa said that was a turning point for her Dad and helped him cope later with his prostate cancer battle.
“He found a passion for running and bike riding, and we have a long list of different endurance events he completed since then,” she said.
“He used to say he would solve the world’s problems out on runs.
“It was also another good reason for he and mum to come visit us kids and coincide it with the marathon.
“He said it was always a magical experience running over the bridge at Runaway Bay and seeing the sun rising over the horizon.
“He loved encouraging people on their runs and hearing their stories too – that’s the beauty of this event, everyone has a story!”
The Blue Dragons will be out in force on Saturday 1 July in The Star Gold Coast 5.7km Challenge in memory of their inspiration Les Blake and spreading the word about prostate cancer.
“We’ve been involved with the Prostate Cancer Foundation both in Australia and New Zealand since Dad’s diagnosis and we hope we can keep growing our Blue Dragons team this year,” Vanessa said.
“We hope to inspire more conversation about men’s cancers especially how easy it is to have a free annual blood test.”
Les Blake’s legacy and memory will live on at the event thanks to his family and Blue Dragons team.
To support Blue Dragons at this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon, visit their fundraising page at gcam2017.everydayhero.com/au/blue-dragons
27,000 runners will take part in the 2017 Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
The 39th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July.
Set to attract more than 27,000 participants of all ages and abilities, this year’s race program will feature the Gold Coast Airport Marathon over 42.2km, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, The Star Gold Coast 5.7km Challenge, Zespri 4km Junior Dash and Zespri 2km Junior Dash.
For the fourth year, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon has been awarded an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label.
RUN #GCAM17 WITH THE BLAKE FAMILY