A cry from the crowd alerting American runner Keira D’Amato that she was “dangerously close to the record” was all the 39-year-old mother of two needed to hot foot the last 2km of the Gold Coast’s ASICS Half Marathon course and obliterate the race record (previously 1:09:00), the Australian Allcomers record (previously 1:08:48) and the USA national half marathon record (previously 1:06:52).
In a scintillating time of 1:06:39 an emotional D’Amato badgered the finish line team to confirm she had actually cracked the record and it was only after her official time was revealed and excited reporters grilled her on her race plan that it started to sink in.
On Saturday 1 July she laid popular Aussie runner Lisa Weigthman’s 13-year-old ASICS Half Marathon race record to rest and finished two and a half minutes ahead of Australian’s Leanne Pompeani (1:09:07) and Ellie Pashley (1:09:25).
“It almost felt too good to be true…. I am so thankful that I’m here and that this race was so perfectly organised, perfect weather, beautiful scenery and the course was flat and I was connected with [Australian Olympian] Ben St Lawrence to pace. It was like everything fell into place and it felt magical.”
A first timer to Australia and Queensland’s Gold Coast D’Amato admitted her entry was an evangelical endeavour with her sights firmly set on breaking the USA half marathon record and setting the bar for the World Championships in Budapest in August.
And she acknowledged 2022 Gold Coast Marathon winner and race record holder Lindsay Flanagan and fellow American runners Steph Bruce and Sarah Hall’s feedback on their positive experiences on the Gold Coast had initially put the destination on her radar.
But ultimately it was her coach who suggested “this might sound crazy, [because of the late entry] but I think a really good option would be to head to Australia for the Gold Coast Marathon – it’s a fast and flat course and the weather is great.
“We felt if we had an average year with the weather and conditions, we could hit a home run and I thought given the world championships in Hungary meant I had to travel and perhaps stepping outside my comfort zone would be great practice,” she said.
“You sacrifice a lot with family time when you train months and months for a marathon, and it’s not a cheap sport, but I was looking for a return.
“I wanted to achieve a goal, so paying a bit extra to get a good course, good weather and a great experience was an investment in myself,” D’Amato said.
“I felt grateful to be on the Gold Coast, watching the sunrise with all the runners, that just took over, there were no excuses.
“I knew I could run really fast, and I had everything all set for me, so I just had to go out and do it.
“I was in control of my destiny.”
Overwhelmed by the crowds lining the streets of the Gold Coast D’Amato said she felt powerful and didn’t want to let anyone down knowing she had so much support with people singing out “Go Keira” every 200 metres or so.
“I loved hearing the friendly cheers along the way and laughed out loud when one woman yelled out beat all those boys,” she said.
“You learn from other people’s experiences. I went to the wildlife park and saw kangaroos and I had one of the best races of my life, so I think just the whole package, the experience paired with a quality, amazing race means you’re going to see a lot more Americans on the Gold Coast.
“I sort of look at my experience here as double-dipping… a really great vacation and holiday and a really great race… that’s a win-win.”
The scenic Gold Coast Marathon and ASICS Half Marathon courses flanks the Gold Coast’s famous surf beaches and stunning Broadwater in a destination boasting a plethora of uniquely Australian experiences and the warmth and hospitality of welcoming locals.
Gold Coast Marathon CEO, Ben Mannion said over its 43 years the event had earned a reputation for its great course, ideal winter running conditions and the opportunities and attractions it offered the many participants who were also tourists to the region.
“Queensland’s Gold Coast is Australia’s premier tourist destination with a sunny, subtropical climate, world-class surfing beaches, exciting foodie experiences and a magnificent rainforest hinterland just a short drive from the coast.
“The city boasts one of the country’s few regional international airports, a variety of accommodation options and an easy and accessible transport network,” Mannion added.
The Gold Coast Marathon powered by Chery is organised by Events Management Queensland and is proudly supported by the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.