Chris Daniels

Chris Daniels is the digital business editor for nzherald.co.nz

Gold Coast: Run before sunrise? Magic

A brisk run with 10,000 others on a Gold Coast mild winter morning uplifts Chris Daniels.

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon course begins along the coastal Esplanade - a great way to start any morning.
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon course begins along the coastal Esplanade - a great way to start any morning.

To change yourself you sometimes have to change those around you.

I've been running marathons for nearly 10 years now, and in that time I've never considered myself much of a speedster - endurance sure, but I'd convinced myself that taking up running in my mid-30s meant I'd never really achieve any great speed.

So, year after year, I was content with finishing races in middling, unspectacular times. The first few long, slow marathons had hard-wired an equivalent slow, steady pace into my muscles and brain that I'd never be able to shake.

But it turns out this routine, this steady equilibrium can be broken.

For me it was cracked by leaving home and having a go at racing in another city - one that hypes itself up as home to a flat, fast course that gives runners every opportunity to get that Personal Best time.

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon has just been given "gold label" status by the International Association of Athletics Federations - the only race in our region to have such a grade, putting it in the same league as its more famous counterparts in New York, Berlin and Tokyo.

Just under 25,000 runners took part in last year's race weekend - just under 5000 for the marathon, 10,000 for the half, 5600 for the 10km and 3500 for the 5.7km distance.

Another 1500 raced in the kids "junior dash" events.

Sounds all very serious, but the race still has a fun, family vibe about it.

Now, I just ran the half-marathon - and came in at 1hr 37m - but the full marathon is just as flat and fast, perhaps more scenic, too, as it takes in more of the beachfront along Surfers Paradise and up to the turnaround point at Burleigh Heads before heading back to the Southport start-finish area.

The race starts early in the morning before the sun comes up - with the first few kilometres of running under a beautiful sun rising over the Tasman.

A brisk run with 10,000 others on a warm winter Gold Coast morning can transform expectations of yourself.

It was a psychological reboot that helped me to go on and break my own personal best marathon time twice in the next two months.

PRE-RACE

While carbo-loading and pre-race pasta face-stuffing has fallen out of favour lately, a glass of wine and a pasta dinner at Surfers' Vapiano restaurant is still a good dinner the night before the big race. Chefs prepare each individual meal behind counters. Good value. Delicious.

POST-RACE

Head for the cool hills of the Queensland rainforest - after your run in the heat, take a 45m drive to Mt Tamborine. A long massage and a glass of wine on the deck overlooking a deep escarpment surrounded by rainforest at the Escarpment Retreat and Day Spa. It's beautiful and cool up in the bush - a long way from the glass towers. To change yourself you sometimes have to change those around you.

CHECKLIST

Details: This year's marathon is on the weekend of July 5-6.

Further information: See goldcoastmarathon.com.au.

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Chris Daniels travelled as a guest of Gold Coast Tourism.

- NZ Herald

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