After a worldwide pandemic and scant opportunity to race over the past two years the Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast men’s marathon is back with vengeance.
And so are the overseas competitors who have shaken off their covid blues and wasted no time in getting back to the Gold Coast to again shine a light on the 42-year-old event’s undeniable credentials as an international road race magnet.
Leading this year’s charge is a true star and friend of the Gold Coast event, the seemingly unstoppable Yuki Kawauchi who heads the to the start line he knows so well with the No.1 bib on his chest.
The ever-smiling 35-year-old Yuki has run eight Gold Coast Marathons for four podium finishes, including taking in Broadwater views from the top step in 2013.
He’ll line up in the early morning of Sunday 3 July alongside another Japanese runner who needs no introduction to the course.
NN Running Team member Jo Fukuda (31) was third on the Gold Coast in 2018, which was a breakthrough performance for him and one that sets him up for a serious tilt at the 2022 title.
In fact, that run was a lifetime best of 2:09:52, but he has since consistently run in the 2:10s with another PB and breakthrough marathon victory certainly not far away.
Akihiro Kaneko (28), who completes a Japan clean sweep of the top three starters, is looking for his first victory in his fourth international marathon, with Belgium’s Amaury Paquet (31) and Australia’s 41-year-old Ethiopian-raised journeyman Samuel Gebremichael no doubt keen to go with the early Japanese pace.
Tasmanian-based Englishman, Nick Earl and New Zealander-cum-Victorian David Ridley add to the front-line international flavour.
Earl topped the UK marathon ranking list for 2019 after setting a new personal best of 2:14:38 at the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan, so he must be considered a strong chance for a breakthrough Gold Coast placing.
Victorian trio Jaryd Clifford, Ben Kelly and Matt Gunther round out the top 10 while a local will hope to continue a fine family tradition in the race.
Following in the running steps of mum, Janet McAfee who won the 1987 Gold Coast Marathon, 25-year-old Gold Coaster, Louis McAfee will make his marathon debut with a string of half marathon successes under his belt.
And watch out for evergreen 35-year-old Aidan Hobbs from Brisbane who ran 9th in the recent Launceston Half Marathon as a tune up to this event.
The 2022 Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon also hosts the Oceania and Queensland Marathon Championships.