1 July 2018 – ONEathlete traveled down to the scenic Australian city of Gold Coast for the 40th edition of IAAF Gold Label 8.Gold Coast Marathon (GCM) 2018. Taking on the full marathon distance in the 2018 GCM, national marathoner Ashley Liew was joined by Evan Chee (both managed by ONEathlete), quite literally, when the long-time training partners crossed the line together with a time of 2:51:09.
While this year’s Gold Coast marathon was tipped to be hotter than previous editions, its iconic flat route and historically fast finishes remained popular with runners of all levels who see this well-reputed and professionally organized event as an opportunity to clock their personal bests. Alike the ONEathlete(s), this track record was assuring for the 450+ Singaporean runners (highest record) who went down under for the race.
As this was Ashley’s 5th, and Evan’s 2nd, participation in the #GCM18, the duo are hardly strangers to the electrifying race atmosphere and camaraderie as well as support extended by the warm Australians. Not to forget, the ‘Commonwealth effect’, the magnanimity of the recent host city of the Commonwealth Games who were now seasoned in cheering on the runners! However, race-day conditions vary, and could change in an instant. That is why they always approach each race as if it’s their first, leaving little to chance. Ashley also shared his race approach and GCM experience with other Singaporean runners on the Sunday Times as well as a pre-race session organized by Tourism & Events Queensland.
It was an exciting affair in the Men’s race, which was eventually won by 3-time winner Kenneth Mungara in a 3-way sprint finish with a time of 2:09:47, seconds ahead of 2nd and 3rd place Japanese runners Kenta Murayama (2:09:49) and Jo Fukuda (2:09:50) while Japanese ‘citizen runner’ Yuki Kawaguchi, competing in his 7th GCAM, finished 9th place in 2:14:51.
RunONE caught up with Ashley after the race, where he was joined by his fiancée Sandra who had also taken part in her maiden overseas race on Saturday.
“It was a tough day with hotter and more humid conditions than expected, but I’m grateful for the cheers of so many Singaporeans who were also running the marathon. Special thanks to Sandra who waited for me at the 30km mark and ran alongside me while cheering encouragement”, said Ashley who had been preparing consistently for this event and won The Performance Series 5km race just a week ago.
Speaking of Evan, who Ashley had shared many memorable moments during training and podium finishes together, “I’m very thrilled that we sprinted down the line and headed for the finish together, as fellow teammates and ONEathlete(s) pushing each other on to the very end. It was a special moment and definitely one for keeps.”
The only thing worse than sustaining an injury during a race is to start with one. Evan had serious doubts about his race fitness owing to a prolonged injury which had affected his preparation and training. However, looking back on the professionalism of GCM race organizers, where race logistics such as special drinks station and distance markers were wonderfully orchestrated, left a lasting impression on him.
“Having that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to push each other throughout the race, just as we did on countless occasions during training, and sprint down the finish chute with Ashley, is something I’ll never forget too,” reminisced Evan.
In the half-marathon distance, national marathoner Soh Rui Yong finished with a time of 1:10:51 behind Indonesia’s Agus Prayogo who clocked his season-best finish of 1:07:40. Agus had lost out on the Marathon Gold Medal (for SEA Games 2018) to the Singaporean last August in Kuala Lumpur.
Well, at least post-race now, both athletes and the Singapore community would not be coming back without spending a day or two at the iconic Surfers Paradise Beach, catching a bird’s eye view from Q1 or walking down the Burleigh Market. Not to mention, not one, but three theme parks – Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild Water World – to be spoilt for choices!