Gold Coast Marathon 2018

The 40th edition of the Gold Coast Marathon elicited a very bittersweet experience for me. In fact I'm finding it very difficult to put it into words even now. But writing this down might soothe the mind a little bit more and so here goes.

My claim to fame of the 40th edition!

The year held so much hope and promise. After taking a step back last year and evaluating my entire  approach to running, I felt this would be the year things got back on track for me. Along with Jamie and Calvin, I opted for the Hansons Marathon Method, something that I've been using for all my marathon training. The three of us were on the same plan and it made training a lot easier, especially the longer runs on the weekends.

The training needed my complete focus and attention. With a full time job, all my runs had to be completed before the sun came up which meant waking up at ungodly hours just to make sure the two main key workouts of the week would get done. One thing about the Hansons plan is consistency, you really needed to stick to it exclusively. 

The training went without a hitch, hard and tough as it was, I was able to hit all the paces required. I was happy. While I've used the Hansons plan before, this was the first time I stuck to the plan like glue. Back then I was too impatient but another aspect of a successful Hansons plan was sticking to it and so I did. But little did I know the Marathon Gods had other plans for me.

Ten days out from race day, I was out on one of my key interval workouts. Nothing out of the ordinary, a 15k tempo with 2km warm up/cool down. Things were fine and I was hitting the paces I needed for the session. But somewhere into the 9k of the tempo, the world suddenly started spinning, and I collapsed to the ground from dizziness, threw up and just laid there not being able to move much. It felt like I was on total empty in the energy level. I can't be sure, but I think I was lying there close to 20 minutes before struggling to make my way home, with the help of the neighbourhood security guard.

It took close to another 45 minutes just to get home, which was only a kilometer away. The wife was about to send out a search party for me cos she knows the time I'm normally done with each session. The moment I reached back, I just laid down and couldn't do anything else, not even go to the doctors, which I did the next day and was told that it was food poisoning, which I somehow couldn't accept. One minute I was fine, the next, I was collapsed on the road. I was given meds and decided to skip the final weeks training since it was just about 10 days or so to race day.

But even though I was recovering, things didn't improve much, running wise. I could hardly run 200 metres without having to stop and gasp for air, I put it down to the illness and prayed that I would recover in the next few days leading up to race day. I was worried but the excitement of flying off to the Gold Coast pushed the worries aside.

The ever so strict "airport" personnel.

This year my wife decided to come along and we both made our way to Putrajaya Sentral on Wednesday night where we left the car for the duration of our trip and took the Express Rail Link to the airport. It's something we always do since parking long term there was a hell of a lot cheaper than parking at KLIA or taking a cab to and fro.

The flight was a late night one which was the norm for travelling to the Gold Coast and happened to be a full flight. I was already pretty exhausted so sleeping came easy and before I knew it, it was time to land. My morale level and mood increased substantially since I've been looking forward to coming "home" again for ages.

Day 1

This year, Jamie, my wife and me would be putting up at the Woodroffe Hotel in Southport for the duration of our stay. The hotel was located in a nice quiet neighborhood and was just a short 10 minute walk to the race precinct that it would be a great advantage for us on race day since we wouldn't have to wake up at a really ungodly hour just to get there. The rest of the gang were housed in a nice little "mansion" adjacent to David Fleay Wildlife Park which was the total opposite end of where we were.

The first thing on our agenda for the day was to get to Harbour Town and sink our teeth into some food since all of us were practically starving. Choon Yuen and the rest of the gang rented two cars and dropped by the hotel to pick us up and we all headed to the Harbour Town Premium Outlet to get some food. It was back to our traditional food outlet, Grill'd to dive into some of their delicious and huge burgers.

Once we got our tummies filled, it was time to do what we actually came to Harbour Town for, which was to shop for running gears, shoes and apparels. We're very limited with our choices here in Malaysia and I wasn't about to leave the place without at least getting something. So it was from one sports outlet (for me anyway) to another and by the time I was done, I added on quite a bit of running apparel bought at some incredibly good prices. I came out of there a happy man.

After a little bit of grocery shopping at Woolie's, it was time to head to the expo. The expo this year was dedicated to the 40th Anniversary of the event and hosted lots of historic info about the Gold Coast Marathon. I've always loved the expo here and this year was no exception. We spent quite a bit of time slowly checking out stuff and catching up with some friends there. Got myself some gels and the event tee before Choon Yuen kindly dropped us back to the hotel.

Day 2

I woke up pretty early on the second day as I wanted to take same vain running shots (but of course) and also give the race precinct a look-see while it was still empty. My wife didn't want to follow me so I messaged Jamie to let him know I was heading out for a short run around the area. This was also to gauge my fitness level. The morning was pretty cold but not overly cold. My run was laboured but I put it down to the travel and activities of the day before. Besides I was more excited at exploring the area we were in.

While Southport may not be as busy and "loud" as Surfer's Paradise, it does exude its own charm. It housed many quaint little food and coffee joints and some fantastic wall art littered the side lanes and alleys. Of course, these were wonderful opportunities for some photo ops and I naturally took full advantage of it. After a quick run around the race precinct and more photo ops, I headed back to the hotel and discovered that breakfast was still being served. Rushed up to get the wife and met Jamie who was already there. Jamie headed out for his look-see of the area while the wife and me finished our breakfast before I headed up for a shower and to meet up with Jamie since we were to meet up with the rest of the arriving Malaysian's at the race expo for a Team Malaysia and South East Asian contingent photo-shoot.

We decided to keep the day easy as we didn't want to tax our feet too much. A quick visit to Australia Fair which was just  10 minutes away from the hotel to get some snacks and drinks, followed by a quick dinner of some Thai fried rice before heading back to the hotel for some rest. After all, we had a "tough" 5.7km race the next day to achieve a personal worst.

Day 3

Day three was going to be a fully packed day for both Jamie and me. First of was our very highly anticipated 5.7km fun run cum shake down that we were all looking forward to. Met the rest of the gang who parked near the hotel and we all made our way to the race precinct. My wife said she would come down a little later on her own to see us flag off. Australia is one place I never worry about leaving my wife to be by herself or walk down the streets on her own. I know she'll be safe.

As per the script, the fun run was nothing but fun. Lots of pictures, friendly banter and laughter accompanied us along the route. But to be honest, this was where I also knew that something was terribly wrong with me. I was struggling to keep running without gasping for breath and have the gang to thank for slowing down to keep me company all the way back. I pushed the worrisome thoughts away and enjoyed the rest of the race as best as I could.

Immediately upon crossing the finish, I grabbed my medal, took pictures with the volunteers and rushed back to the hotel for a shower. I had a helicopter to catch! Yes, you read that right, a helicopter! Now, I'm a military buff and things like aircraft excites me a lot. I've been on aircraft carriers, up close with F15's, F18's, and even helicopters but to actually ride in one was something I've never done before and was as excited as a child in an ice-cream shop!

The heli ride was right out of Sea World and took about 15 minutes or so. After our weights were taken, we were ushered to the heli and being directed upfront with Jamie to sit with the pilot was pure joy! Sometimes it pays to be skinny ... hahaha! We strapped ourselves in and soon we were up in the air to enjoy the spectacular view of the Gold Coast from a vantage point that I've never seen before and it was spectacular to say the least! It was a dream come true!

Things can't get any better than this!

Next up we headed to Paradox Coffee, located in Surfer's Paradise for a cupping session. While I like coffee, I know nuts about it. Well, what do you expect from someone who thinks Nescafe 3-in-1 is classy coffee ... hahaha! The session did yield some eye opening tidbits on coffee for me and I'll never look at my coffee the same way again!

Once we were done, we met up with Francis, an old friend for a quick lunch as both Jamie and me were pretty famished, before we headed to the Surfer's Paradise arch for a photo shoot with the rest of Team Malaysia. Quite a sizeable number turned out and it was great catching up with people you only meet once in a blue moon before finally heading back to the hotel for some rest. My mind wasn't at ease though since the thought of my fitness was weighing heavily on me. On top of that I contracted a cough and flu, an added worry to add to the list!

After a short rest, it was a quick Japanese dinner with both Jamie and Francis. My wife opted out as she had already eaten much earlier and was still quite stuffed. Once done, we headed back to the hotel and I laid out my race gear and called it an early night.

Day 4

Woke up bright and early and while I tried to keep up a positive demeanor, my mind was a mess. Went through my usual pre-race routine and met with Jamie and Francis for a short warm up around the hotel. This turned out to be my biggest disappointment of the entire trip. Hardly 800 meters into the warm up I was struggling to run. The breath was so laboured that I stopped to walk. My mind was a blank. Headed back to the hotel and after some consultation with my ever supportive wife, I made the hard decision to not start the race. I walked over next door to inform both Jamie and Francis of my decision.

Trust me, I was devastated. I couldn't think properly. 18 weeks ago, I was so full of promise and now here I am, having to watch both my Hansons training mates, Jamie and Calvin race and I would be in the sidelines. It hurt like hell! But health always trumps over anything. Well, at least that's what I kept feeding myself. The 40th year of the Gold Coast Marathon saw me as a mere spectator. But at least I was overjoyed to see the rest of the gang come in with some amazing PR's.

Dinner was hosted by Tourism and Events Queensland at Seascape, located right smack in Surfer's Paradise, fronting the Pacific Ocean with the teams from South East Asia. It was a fun and delightful outing with lots of talk about the race and the chance to meet some of SEA's best the likes of Soh Rui Yong and Edan Shah. All of us were pretty tired by then and once we were done, it was straight back to the hotel and some much needed shut eye.

The next day's planned recovery run at the spit was called off with more of the sign ups opting to sleep in instead. I had no complains as at 5:44 am start of a cold morning was not the greatest of ideas.

Day 5
This would be pretty much a very free day for us. I decided to rent a car as my wife wanted to see some places that would be much easily accessible if we had a car. It was a last minute thing and I contacted the previous car rental company that I had used two years ago, Cut Price Car Rentals and they were so accommodating with my last minute request for a car. They sent a driver to pick me up and headed back to their office for the necessary paperwork and soon enough I had a car to explore more. Jamie had opted to join the gang so it was just my wife and me.

She had Hinze Dam first off on her list. One thing my wife does best is that she can find the all kinds of places to visit that's not on the regular tourist map. The drive was about 30 minutes and took us through some of the smaller towns on a road that led to the mountains. It was a nice but slight warm morning. Once we reached the dam, we were taken in by the calm and serenity of the place. It was really windy up there and these are time I'm glad I'm bald cos my wife was battling with her hair which was being blown every which way ... hahaha!

We were both hungry and grabbed a bite from the cafe there staffed by extremely friendly staff which served some great coffee and pies. After the quick bite, it was a walk around the breathtaking dam and lots of vain shots for me. The only sad part was they were not releasing the water through the spillway as it would have been a spectacular sight if they were.

Once we were done, it was off to Coombabah as my wife wanted to find a boardwalk pathway over the waters we missed the last time. Upon arrival we were greeted by two very domesticated kangaroos grazing away just about 5 feet away from us. My really first up close with a a kangaroo which I named Joey. Don't ask me why, he just looked like a Joey! After a walk trough the trail, we missed the actual trail path over water that she was looking for due to me rushing her which I now regret cos that would have made for some spectacular vain shots. Next time, I'll just let her lead cos she sure knows how to find some pretty darn interesting places.

We finally headed towards Labrador as I wanted to take some beach shots and also have a quick bite before meeting up with the gang for dinner later. This time round, it wasn't feeding time for the pelicans but there were loads of seagulls trying to con me of my lunch .. hahaha!

The day ended with a dinner cooked by chef Richi at their mansion coupled with some friendly banter before finally calling it a night as Jamie, my wife and me had an early morning hot air balloon ride to catch.

Day 6
It was a very early wake up since we had to board the coach for a short ride to Beaudesert, a quaint little town about 30 minutes away from Canungra, to await confirmation on the status of the hot air balloon ride. The winds weren't letting up and the pilot of the balloon finally decided to break the news that he would have to call off the ride for safety reasons. I was a little disappointed but you can't compromise when it comes to safety.

Once we were dropped off back at the hotel, we had a quick breakfast, got some rest before checking out from the hotel. Since I still had the car till flight time, we headed to the Spit for some sightseeing. This would be my second time at the Spit and they've done some improvements since I was last there. The view though was no less spectacular.

After about an hour or so, Jamie, my wife and me headed to Peter's Fish Market for some lunch. Peter's Fish Market is a favourite of mine and as always, the food was deliciously yummy. From here we headed towards Southern Queensland since it was nearer to the airport.

We drove to Snapper Rocks at Rainbow Bay and hung around the Pat Fagan Park, taking in loads of picture. I simply love this place and told the wife that we will be putting up here for #GCM19 and she's already doing research on accomodations. This place is so much like Surfer's Paradise minus the hustle and bustle of Surfer's. We actually hung around here in 2016 but didn't have much time to take in the beauty and serenity of the place as it was dark back then.

After some coffee and pie in Tweeds we returned the car, met the gang and got ready to fly home. Like I said, it was a very bittersweet time for me this time round but the sweet more than made up for the bitterness of the DNS.

Before I end, a huge thank you to Tourism and Events Queensland, Events Management Queensland, Holiday Travel and Tours and also Air Asia for the superb hospitality you've shown me and my wife. We had a blast. A thank you also goes out to my two Hanson training mates, Jamie and Calvin which I would have loved to have raced alongside with but I guess the Gods had other plans for me, to the training gang for those weekend sessions and Choon Yuen, though not on the Hansons plan, for his company on my many interval and tempo sessions in Paremba which would have otherwise been a lot tougher.

But most importantly to my ever supportive wife who even though hates it at times when I get into a new training plan but will nevertheless always be there to lend her support. Thanks for putting up with my nonsense most times. Don't forget to do loads of research for 2019, ya cos we sure as hell are going back!

For more reading on #GCM18, check out Jamie's postings on his race and holiday recap.

The dream is not yet fulfilled!


  1. Hinze Dam looks interesting! So glad you managed to get a lot of sightseeing done. :)
    So sorry you didn't get to run on Race day, but like you said, health comes first.

  2. #youllbeback #tempsetbackonly #thedaywillcome #hmmrocks #theairportsecurityguyhasbeenfired


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