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Race Report: Gold Coast Half Marathon men’s and women’s races both decided by breakaways

Bendigo’s Andy Buchanan (1:02:25) and Canberra’s Leanne Pompeani (1:09:20) took the spoils in Saturday’s Gold Coast Half Marathon after both races were decided by breakaways over the final kilometre.

Thirty-three-year-old Buchanan held off a determined South Australian Isaac Heyne and Japan’s Shunsuke Shikama while Pompeani gave Paris-bound marathoner Jess Stenson something to chase in her final preparation before the 2024 Olympic Games.

Two-time winner American Sara Hall came third in her fourth appearance on the Gold Coast.

In taking victory, Buchanan and Pompeani were also crowned Oceania Champions.

Buchanan said it was a tough day at the office with some rain at the start and finish, some steady wind, and the fear of the unknown.

“It was really nice on the way out with a big tail wind, but we had a hard head wind the whole way back,” he said.

“I felt a bit average at 18km, so I hung back, but when I reached the front I just ran scared; that’s how you run when you’re out in front.

“I went through some bad patches but just stuck with it because I know they don’t last forever,” he said.

Adelaide’s Heyne said he ran with an agile race plan.

“My idea was to just sit and not expend too much energy in the first half,” he said.

“When we turned around and came into the wind everyone slowed down, so I ad libbed it a bit.

“I’ve won the 10km here before (in 2022), but this is my first half, so I’m pretty stoked with how it went,” he said.

Shikama said he enjoyed his first overseas assignment. “It was wonderful to be here with all the atmosphere and cheering, it was fun and enjoyable, and it really pushed me along,” he said.

“This is my very first overseas race, and I’m happy that it was at the Gold Coast Half Marathon,” he said.

Shikama was one who appreciated the cooler conditions. “Compared to Japan there was less humidity and [it was] a bit cooler, so they were great running conditions.

“My run was about two minutes off my personal best and those two Aussies were really crazy eager,” he laughed.

Women’s champion Pompeani added her first Gold Coast Half Marathon to her famous Southern Cross University 10km wins in 2016, 2019 and 2022.

She said it was a last gasp breakaway that put distance between herself and Stenson on the blue carpet.

“I’m extremely happy, I knew what I was going for,” she said.

“I saw the field and I knew we were all sitting in the 69 min zone, so we were going to have a pack,” she said. “And then we got the feel of what we were doing.”

“After Sara dropped off, Jess and I realised that it’s much easier to take the tail wind, so we worked together and shared the pace.

“I haven’t had a win in a half marathon here, so I’m very happy with that,” she said.

The 27-year-old Pompeani said there was lift from the crowd.

“The atmosphere is the great thing about this race, because the course is lined with houses and people just come out on their balconies and give you a cheer, and this sets me up for the road racing season ahead.”

Stenson said she’ll take plenty from the race as she prepares to head to Paris via Switzerland for final training.

“I felt good in the first two thirds but the last third was tough,” she said.

“I am in heavy marathon training now, so I think that was a really positive job.

“Leanne and I worked together, taking turns out the front and it really helped having someone out there.

“My race plan was to be brave and be competitive against the other girls; I decided not to look at my splits the entire race,

“The next big thing coming up is getting to Europe with two young children [aged 10 months and four] before the Paris Olympic Games,” she said.

The 2017 and 2018 winner of this race and one-time American half marathon record holder Hall said she was happy with her podium finish.

“The conditions were tough, but we had a really great group to work alongside,” she said.

“They [Pompeani and Stenson] pulled away in the second half so it was tough to stay positive and keep fighting, but I really love this race; it’s my fourth time here.

“I didn’t have much of a plan, but to put myself in a position where I had to hurt and dig deep and I think I did that out there,

“I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be, but I am happy; I do love the rhythm of this course,” she said.

Champion Canadian duo Natasha Wodak and Andrea Seccafien took fourth and fifth respectively.

A record 10,657 runners faced the starter for the first of the nine events of the 44th Gold Coast Marathon presented by ASICS weekend

Posted in News.