By Jasmine Rolfe
Two Queenslanders are looking forward to making a difference for a dedicated group of runners at the 39th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon on Sunday 2 July.
Gold Coast’s Andrew Smyth and Brisbane’s Craig Mann will be four hour pace runners as part of the Pat Carroll Online & Onland Pacers program at this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
The pacer program helps runners at the event achieve their goal time, with Andrew and Craig among a special team organised by ambassador Pat Carroll, tasked with setting a pace in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon and Southern Cross University 10km.
Attached to each pacer will be a brightly coloured balloon sporting the goal time so runners can identify them at the start line and throughout the race.
The four hour pace group is one of the most popular in any marathon with often hundreds of runners striving to break that mark.
46-year-old Andrew is excited by his role in motivating both seasoned marathon runners and first time competitors to finish the 42.195km race within four hours.
As an experienced endurance runner himself, Andrew has plenty of tips to support the runners to the finish line
“People that get over excited at the beginning of the race tend to get bitten and come back to the field very quickly,” Andrew said.
“The people that have a good day and achieve their target time are the ones that run a consistent pace throughout the race – they’re the ones that get the most enjoyment out of the day.”
Mindset is also a major factor in marathons and Andrew said one of his duties as a pacer is to chat with the runners to distract them from the fatigue, particularly in the final 10km.
“I try to converse with everybody, particularly the new marathon runners, to make them feel comfortable at the start as well as strong and confident through the run,” he said.
“The best thing to do is to find someone to run and chat with.
“You’d be surprised that you can push each other and use the mind to get over the fatigue in the body.
“It’s important too to really soak up the last 200 metres as you come down the finish chute knowing you’re going to be a marathon finisher!”
Andrew believes the spirit of the Gold Coast comes alive during the event and his experience as a pacer has allowed him to meet new people and make lifelong friends.
“It’s a great time to catch up with people that fly in from interstate that I don’t see often and to meet new people,” he said.
Fellow pacer, Craig Mann from Hawthorne in Brisbane, will be running near Andrew to set the pace for the runners striving for a sub four-hour marathon.
“The last 10kms is when it really starts to hurt, and as pacers we want to make sure they finish,” Craig said.
“But runners shouldn’t feel like they have to stick with us if they’re feeling good.
“If they think there’s a chance they can run it in 3 hours 55 minutes or faster, then I’ll push them to get there.”
Craig believes that there aren’t many locations in the world better to be a pacer and run a marathon than the Gold Coast.
“It’s one of the most scenic courses I’ve ran and people line the streets cheering which keeps you motivated,” Craig said.
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 ANDREW AND CRAIG