Japan’s Naoki Koyama has defeated a class Gold Coast Marathon powered by Chery field to take the 2023 men’s full distance marathon spoils and set a new course record.
His 2:07:40 eclipsed the 2:07:50 race record set in 2019 by compatriot Yuta Shitara and was the last of four outright course records reset across the weekend events.
Kenyan Ezekiel Omullo (2:08:26) and Victoria’s Liam Adams took the minor placings with Adam’s running the fastest marathon ever by an Australian on Australian soil in 2:08:39 eclipsing Rob de Castella’s 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games winning time of 2:09:18.
Not only that, he ran it in front of the great man himself who is today an Ambassador for the Gold Coast Marathon powered by Chery.
Meanwhile Kenyans Rodah Tanui (2:27:10) and Ruth Chebitok (2:28:17) went one-two in the women’s race ahead of Queensland Olympic track star and marathon debutant Genevieve Gregson who ran a 2:28:33.
They were the standout performances of the 6722 runners who faced the starter on a perfect Gold Coast morning.
Koyama said he was surprised to set the new men’s mark.
“I am very happy to set the record but that wasn’t my main aim.
“My plan was to get out in front and not slow down at all, and that’s what I did.
“I didn’t wake up this morning thinking about records, I was thinking more about the other Japanese runners in the field and wanting to finish in front of them,” he said.
Second placegetter and 2022 Singapore Marathon champion Omullo said he was pleased with his first crack at a marathon on the Gold Coast.
“I am feeling good to be here and I’m happy as I have beaten my previous PB of 2:08:41 with my 2:08:26 today.
“My plan was to keep relaxing until maybe 35 kilometres, but these guys are trained to push and before I realised it, they had already started.
“So, I decided to rely on my personal planning and I was feeling more comfortable at 38 kilometres,” he said
Adams said the conditions were the best he had ever run in.
“Every time I run a marathon it’s 20 kilometre plus winds so it’s always tough, but I’ll take those conditions out there today any day.
“I had some pacemakers and a bit of a pack to run with, so I’m stoked with that result [2:08:39], which was about a two-minute personal best.
“I knew I was running out fast, but I was confident I could do it, even if the wheels fell off a bit at the end.
“I had some strong guys to chase, and they kept me honest out there and it was great having the crowd yell ‘go Liam’ the whole way around.
Adams says his running obsession doesn’t come without a cost.
“I’ll be running the Berlin Marathon next, and I spent about $10,000 trying to prep’ for this race because I went [high altitude] training in Flagstaff [Arizona], but I had to dig deep into my savings and I’ve maxed out my annual leave, so it’s back to being a sparkie for a while I reckon.
“I don’t think many of those guys on the top 10 list have ever been non funded or not supported so I guess I’m a bit different to them, hey?”.
Japanese defending champion Jo Fukuda dropped off the pace early to finish 32nd.
Women’s winner Tanui said she was happy to finish over a minute ahead of Chebitok but was proud of the Kenyan double after both she and Chebitok had both tasted victory before in 2019 and 2018 respectively.
“It was good to be able to win this way. It was my plan to go out and run my best and it all came together today.
“And for us to both to be on the podium is very good,” she said.
Chebitok said she was expecting a little wind but was happy with her run.
“The Gold Coast is one of the best courses in the world and I love it and that’s why I keep coming back.
“Next time I’m expecting to win though,” she said.
Gold Coast born and bred Gregson’s run comes after a year of highs and lows that included two Achilles operations and the birth of a baby.
And she didn’t hold back her emotions.
“I’m crying because I couldn’t be happier,” she said moments after crossing the line.
“I am so thankful I got to do it [her first marathon] at home on the Gold Coast because I literally had so many friends and family out there, mates out there pacing me.
“I had everything that you could possibly want in such a tough environment to get me to the finish line.
And she said the effort wasn’t without planning.
“Anyone that knows me well knows that I had a plan regarding times and here I just wanted sub-2.30.
“When I got to the hotel nerves just overcame me and I just started to get a bit anxious and not sleep well.
“It kind of turned into ‘just remember where you’ve come from, enjoy it and finish’ and I feel like somewhere out there that switched to ‘goal time, goal time’.
“It’s a bit of a surreal moment, I’m in shock; I just can’t believe I did that because honestly two years ago I was ready to retire.
“To be a Queenslander, born on the Gold Coast, here for my first marathon with my whole family and my baby here, I just can’t describe the feeling.
“It’s almost taken over that first [steeplechase] experience at the Olympic Games in 2012.
“This is literally the biggest moment in my life right now, other than having a child.
“The finishing chute too, it was like everyone knew, people weren’t just cheering, they were giving this emotion behind the cheer that was like everyone understood,” she said.
Gregson and Adams efforts also earned them the titles of Oceania Marathon Champions with Gregson also taking out the women’s Queensland Marathon Championship alongside Tim Vincent who took the mens.
Pre-race favourite, Kenyan Florence Kiplagat, struggled with the pace set by her countrywomen, finishing 6th.
And it was a Japan double in the CPL Wheelchair marathon with Kota Hokinoue and Tsubasa Kina taking the 2023 men’s and women’s crowns.
Kina, who consigned pre-race favourite and seven-time Paralympian Christie Dawes to second place, enjoyed her first Gold Coast sojourn.
“It was great out there. I’ve always wanted to come to the Gold Coast and all the sponsors and at home supporters made it happen and I really enjoyed it,” she said.
“It was a great course.
“I saw in the morning that there was such a great crowd out there and I felt so at home and really enjoyed every part of the course, and I would love to be back here on the Gold Coast next year.”
Hokinoue, who finished over nineteen minutes ahead of popular Bilambil Heights racer Bill Chaffey, shared Kina’s sentiments.
“It was a very fast course and much tougher than I thought.
“There was a great crowd, and I enjoyed the support, and I would like to come back again next year,” he said.