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USA’s Flanagan sets new women’s record in the 2022 Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon while Japan’s Fukuda blitzes the men’s field

Two international speedsters scored sensational victories in this morning’s 2022 Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon men’s and women’s races – one in race record time.

Japan’s 31-year-old bright blue haired Jo Fukuda and USA’s Lindsay Flanagan both dismantled their opposition early to take top Gold Coast honours for the first time and shine a light on the 42-year-old event’s undeniable credentials as an international road race magnet.

Both made breaks that just couldn’t be reeled in as they made the most of the perfect crisp running conditions the earlier than usual 6:00am pre-dawn start provided.

In fact, the conditions were so good that Flanagan shaved six seconds off Kenyan Ruth Chebitok’s 2018 women’s Gold Coast race record with her winning time of 2:24:43, which also saw her finish over a minute in front of fellow pre-race fancy Lisa Weightman [2:25:55] and Japan’s Shiho Kaneshige [2:29:12].

She said her race-winning breakaway move early in the contest was a surprise even to her.

“The plan was to make a move at the halfway mark, and at the 10km I thought all the women were with me, but it was just the men.

“I really just wanted to stay with the pace runner and no one else was around us really, so I guess it [the breakaway] happened then,” she said.

Jo Fukuda winning the 2022 Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon

Lindsay Flanagan crossing the line first in the women’s race in record time

Despite the distance between her and the rest of the field, Flanagan said she was always conscious of four-time Olympian Weightman’s staying power and trademark fast finish.

“Lisa is an incredible athlete and so experienced, so I knew she had to be somewhere close, and I knew that I had to keep pushing because she’s the sort of runner who can come up on you at any moment.

“I always had her in the back of my mind, so I can credit her with pushing me to run the race I did today,” she said.

Lisa Weightman wins the Oceania championship and places second in the women’s marathon

A gallant Shiho Kaneshige takes third in the women’s event.

In the men’s contest, Saturday’s ASICS Half Marathon fifth placegetter Liam Adams took on the role as pacesetter, leading top Japanese trio Yuki Kawauchi, Jo Fukuda and Akihiro Kaneko, Belgium’s Amaury Paquet and Australia’s Samuel Gebremichael out through the first five kilometres.

It was at that point though that a major shock was delivered when Kawauchi – the 2013 winner and 2022 top seed – suddenly pulled to the side of the road in distress with a lower leg issue.

That put him out of contention, but in true champion spirit he chose to walk the remainder of the journey, finishing in the sensational time of 3:57:39 and no DNF (Did Not Finish) against the proud Kawauchi name.

Meanwhile Adams, an electrician by day, kept the spark going through the 10km mark which seemed to test the lead gang of four but when he downed tools at the 25km mark, Fukuda and Kaneko took up the heavy lifting.

They created clear air back to Paquet and Gebremichael before Fukuda decided to go it alone from the 30km mark to eventually record a sensational [2:10:55] three-and-a-half-minute win over Kaneko [2:14:25] with Paquet [2:15:45] a further 1:20 behind in third.

Fukuda, third in the race in 2018, said he was surprised by his elevation to the top step of the podium.

“This is my first win here, although my race time was slower than I was expecting,” he said.

“But I was really here to get the title and be the champion and that’s what happened.”

He said he was lifted by the crowd.

“The same as 2018 when I ran here, all the spectators were so cheerful. It’s very heart warming and that really encouraged my run.”

Fukuda said coming to the finish line with all the crowd support was “awesome just awesome”.

“And I prepared my hair the same colour as the beautiful blue Gold Coast sky and ocean, so I was really driven to win,” he said.

And in a triumph for the locals and continuing a fine family tradition started by his mother Janet McAfee who won the 1987 Gold Coast Marathon, 25-year-old Gold Coaster Louis McAfee put the icing on his full distance marathon debut by sensationally taking out the men’s Oceania Championship and Fastest Gold Coaster title in a time of 2:17:50.

Akihiro Kaneko takes second in the men’s event behind countryman Jo Fukuda

Amaury Paquet takes third in the men’s event

Posted in News.