This Australian city is enticing runners with its flat course and cool weather, and the chance to achieve a personal best, writes Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup
THE Gold Coast in Australia doesn’t get very cold during the winter months from June to August — although at 12-20 degrees Celsius, it’s cold enough for most Malaysians.
The days are bright and sunny while the nights are cool and dry. It’s a good time to go whale-watching, cuddle a koala or spend a day at a theme park.
You could also join thousands of runners at the Gold Coast Marathon, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year.
The event is split into two days. Short distance runs will be held on June 30 while longer distances, including the full marathon, takes place on July 1.
The Gold Coast Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. Among other things, this means the event must have an elite field of international runners, complies with anti-doping regulations and is shown on TV domestically and abroad.
Organisers are expecting 25,000 participants of all ages and abilities from 50 countries to race its flat and scenic course over the weekend.
The route cuts through the city’s metropolitan landscape and overlooks picturesque beaches, and is known for being fast.
With ideal winter running conditions featuring low humidity, little wind and mild temperatures, 60 per cent of participants achieve personal best times each year.
Malaysian marathon runner Edan Syah has been competing in the Gold Coast since 2014. Instead of a number, he had the privilege of racing with a bib with his own name in the last three races. The place is also special for other reasons.
“It’s where I improved all my marathon times. Twice I’ve qualified for the Boston Marathon because of my time there. The race environment is amazing and every year I meet a lot of top athletes. Racing with fast runners helps improve my time and you can see your performance level in comparison to them.”
He adds: “Last year, the marathon was held in July and the Olympic Games in Brazil was in August and there were a lot of national athletes competing there hoping to qualify for the Olympics. A top runner from Kenya can finish in two hours and eight minutes. So it’s a good place for runners to achieve their goal.”
Because of its easy access from Malaysia, the Gold Coast has long been a popular holiday destination. But it’s not just R&R. Edan has been told that the number of Malaysians running at the event has been doubling each year.
“The last race saw 200 Malaysian runners so maybe next year there will be 400. Running in Australia is a different experience with a different kind of weather. It’s a little bit more expensive but it’s a wonderful place so you can run and also do a bit of sightseeing.”
However, Edan advises runners to do their tours after the race itself.
Walking around town for two or three kilometres when it’s cool may not seem taxing but it can affect performance on race day, he says.
In his experience, the morning of the race will be quite chilly at about 12 degrees Celsius. But the sun will already be up by 6.30am, so it would be nice and bright by the time the marathon starts after 7am.
“When you see the sun, you tend to think that it’s hot but it’s not,” says Edan. “So you would need to wear layers, perhaps a jumper that you’re willing to discard mid-race. In any case, you need to get there earlier when it’s still dark, so dress appropriately.”
Edan wore gloves in his last two races in the Gold Coast even though the temperature climbed to a warmer 16-17 degrees Celsius as he ran.
He admits that some people find it funny but it was just something that he needed to do to keep himself warm and strong.
“Don’t forget sunblock. Malaysians also need to be very careful about fuelling during the race. If this is the first time you are running in this temperature, you may notice that you don’t sweat and think that you don’t need water.
“That’s quite dangerous, so plan your nutrition and fuelling intake carefully. Make sure you drink before you get thirsty. If you feel thirsty halfway through the mark, it’s already too late,” he says.