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Gold Coast Marathon veteran promoted to Race Director

Events Management Queensland (EMQ) veteran of more than 20 years, Ryan McDonald will take on a new title and a fitting promotion when he steps out as Race Director at the 2023 Gold Coast Marathon powered by Chery.

The passionate advocate for all things running and fitness, McDonald started with Gold Coast Events as it was known in 2003 in a short-term contract position before taking on a full-time role in Athlete Services in 2004 and becoming the General Manager Event Services in 2014.

And two decades later with a couple of COVID induced marathon cancellations under his belt he’s about to embark on his 19th delivery of the iconic event with arguably the best elite field in the Gold Coast Marathon’s history.

Reflecting on his years with Gold Coast Events and its evolution to become Events Management Queensland, McDonald said there was so many elements that he enjoyed about his career, from working with the dedicated team at EMQ to building relationships with the elite athletes, the athlete managers and other marathon organisers from around the globe.

With so much experience on the marathon racing circuit it is really no surprise to those that know him that the humble and devoted employee still attributes much of the success of Australia’s premier road race event to his family, wife Katie, children Sienna (12) and Harper (10) and those people he’s worked alongside over the years.

“There are many elements that integrate to deliver a successful event with the collective input of important stakeholders like the City of Gold Coast, Queensland Police Service, Ambulance and Fire Services, Transport and Main Roads, the Marathon Operations Group (affectionately known as the MOG), the operational contractors and service providers, the many volunteers and community groups and our highly skilled team at EMQ” McDonald said.

He also acknowledges those that walked in the race director shoes before him as important figures in his journey to the pinnacle of his career including past Gold Coast Marathon race directors Dusty Lewis, Dave Cundy and former EMQ CEO, Cam Hart.

Apart from sharing their time and experience, McDonald notes the passion and innovations the previous race directors brought to the Gold Coast Marathon from guiding the event through its first iteration with chip-timing, instilling standards for technical excellence and establishing the event as the first race in Oceania to hold a World Athletics Label and to provide live intermediate split timing and a globally accessible livestream.

He recounts fondly the 2014 Gold Coast Marathon when Silah Limo (2:09:14) broke Robert de Castella’s 1982 Australian Allcomers marathon record (2:09:18) and delivered the event’s first sub 2:10 result as something he’ll always remember in a career that has enjoyed many highlights.

And whilst he recognises it had been a long time since an Aussie topped the Gold Coast Marathon podium with Lee Troop in 2006 and Lauren Shelley in 2009 and would love to see a domestic athlete win the race again soon, he was looking forward to more international athletes returning and appreciated their support after the COVID cancellations.

As the 2023 Gold Coast Marathon approaches at lightning speed, the event’s official Race Director is all about putting in the hard yards, empowering the teams around him and evaluating each event to see how it might improve in what’s shaping up to be an illustrious future.

EMQ CEO, Ben Mannion said it was McDonald’s tenure with the event, his expertise and incredible network of contacts coupled with his passion for the Gold Coast Marathon that underpinned his promotion to Race Director.

Posted in News.