It was the best organized mass sporting event that I had ever participated in.
The Organisers “had to deliver”
Queensland was also making a bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and had to impress African delegates that were in town. Impress, the organizers did. I don’t think I have seen anything better, organisation wise.
Effective Use of Internet Technology
Internet technology was very effectively utilized. Live accurate 5km splits were available on Facebook and webcasts were at strategic locations. I saw big screens at the finish, start, before the 15 km turnaround and at 39 km. During the EXPO, loved ones could make video recordings of support. As one’s running chip crossed designated points, the video recording would appear on the large screen. I was so surprised to hear my wife’s voice of encouragement at the 39 km screen, for a moment I thought my wife was actually by the road.
I understand full results with 5 km splits were available on the internet the same day. Results of every single person were printed in the Gold Coast Bulletin the following day. Official photos sorted for each participant were available the next day. By Thursday, cam recordings of all participants at six different locations (10 km, 21 km, 30 km, before finish line, after finish locations 1 & 2) were available, so amazing.
The 2011 edition (33rd year) was a record event. Total number of participants was the highest (about 25,000) and the long standing men’s course record was broken. About 5,000 took part for the Marathon versus less than 1,000 for Perth’s City to Surf. This event is going places with the organisers specifically targeting new participants from Asia, including Malaysia. So be there at next year’s event on the weekend of 30 June and 1 July 2012.
The Travel Package
The Air Asia Marathon Package is made with input from Pacesetters Athletic Club (PAC) and Gold Coast Tourism. Gold Coast Tourism gave windbreakers and other stuff for the Malaysian participants. Air Asia is actually keen to organize Marathon packages but the response has not always been good. Members are thus encouraged to take advantage of the Marathon packages so that discounts or priority bookings are accorded to Pacesetters Athletic Club members (PACM).
Included in the package are transfers between the hotel and the airport and to the Race EXPO. Transfer to the race start (one way only) is also provided. The Gold Coast package offered a choice of Hotels. Its best to choose a hotel that’s located in the town centre (Surfers Paradise). We chose Islander Resort and it was convenient to eat, make repeat visits to the EXPO, take buses, go to the supermarket etc. The free bus shuttle from the race finish also goes by Surfers Paradise. Choose the wrong hotel and you could pay a fortune in taxi fares just to have a meal.
The Gold Coast beach alone, is I understand 60km long. Then there’s the casino, theme parks, diving, Pacific Fair, the beautiful hinterland, animal parks, golf, sunset cruises, whale watching, its endless. I studied here in 1996 and what I liked best was the postcard perfect clear blue sky. I have never seen such a beautiful sunrise with a myriad of colours as the one at the Gold Coast.
I noticed every single person in the service industry that we spoke to, spoke to us in a very professional and nice manner. Tourists are definitely welcomed to the Gold Coast.
It’s the biggest Race EXPO I have ever seen but apparently the previous year’s EXPO was even bigger. Things are very expensive though. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Malaysian student volunteering at the Marathon registration counter.
Our bus got us to the race start at 4.10 a.m., a good three hours before the Marathon start at 7.10 a.m. We were so early that even the race start gantry had not been placed across the road. We had a good laugh about it, which helped to warm us up in the cold early morning.
Having such a long wait meant it was a great opportunity to bond with the other Malaysian runners. My wife and I hung out with Yin Yin Boey, Marmee, Elaine Pan, Roy Leow, Chew Thong Hin, Li Har, Chau Kok Yik etc.
The race start was at a place called Southport Broadwater close to a beautiful boat marina. The view of the sunrise was breathtaking.
The 10 km and junior runs were held the previous day on Saturday. The Half Marathon (on Sunday) started at 6 a.m. before the Full Marathon which started at 6.10 a.m. The 5km run also had an early start. What all this meant was that the Marathon runners had the roads all to themselves.
Runners seeded themselves by following whichever pace balloon they wanted. Even though the route was pretty narrow at places, runners moved along in an orderly manner. We didn’t see runners that suddenly slowed down after only a short distance.
I noticed many Malaysians (myself included) had over rated our selves. Because of the flat course and cool weather, we all wanted to chase our dreams and do our Personal Best times. Unfortunately, a number of us ended up way off our ambitious target times.
The race proceeded south along the foreshore for about 15km to the Burleigh Heads turnaround. I ran close to Roy Leow and everything was on schedule until the halfway mark. 22km to 30km was a nightmare for me. Even though the sea and surf was nice to see, the bands were playing their songs and Japanese lady drummers were spicing things up, I was having a bad day and horror of horrors, started walking. I wondered how I was going to explain to the world that I had a bad day.
The race route came back to the starting point at 30km where our loved ones were cheering for us. I jogged by proudly holding the Malaysian flag with Cheng. Then inexplicably I felt brilliant and “sprinted” the remaining 12km. I must have overtaken hundreds of runners and to my knowledge only one PAC member (Tan Hock Huat – congratulations) finished in front of me.
Visiting My Alma Mater
I studied at Bond University in 1996. My Gold Coast marathon time then was 4 hours 2 minutes. I suppose age and a bigger tummy has taken its toll. The University and swimming pool was still lovely. It was nice 15 years down the road to return with my wife.
We thank PAC’s committee especially the President and Wendy Soo for their efforts to help organize the trip for members. We hope members and runners in general will continue to support the Marathon packages so that more packages to different locations are organsied. Thank you also to new friend, Chew Thong Hin for the sumptuous meal he treated us all after the Marathon, thank you Sir.
SELECTED RESULTS FOR THE MARATHON
Name : Cat : Gun Time : Remarks
Tan Hock Huat M50-54 3:48 PACM
Sofiantriathlete M50-54 4:20 PACM
Ahmed Azhar Rouse M55-59 4:23
Jamie Pang M40-44 4:23
Abd Azri Peer Mohamed M35-39 4:23 PACM & Chap Ayam Runners
Chin Wui Kin M40-44 4:27 PACM
Cheng Fook Wah M45-49 4:27 PACM
Yum Kin Kok M40-44 4:44
Muhamad Zukhairi Ahmad M30-34 4:44
Chau Kok Yik M25-29 4:45
Lee Kin Leong (Fabio) M25-29 4:45
Roy Yeow M35-39 4:48 PACM
Mohd Irwan Mohd Anuar M30-34 4:47 PB
Ilyanna Ayob F25-29 4:47 PB
Loke Kai Hong M45-49 5:05 PACM
Chew Thong Hin M55-59 5:11 Fourth Marathon in 37 days
Peng Keat Carol Low F50-54 5:18 PACM
Yau Li Har F40-44 5:22 PACM
Tan Tick Hock M50-54 5:26 PACM
Tan Chin Kiat M18-24 5:41 PACM
Mohan Marathon M50-54 5:48 PACM
Elaine Pan Yee Leng F25-29 5:50 PB
Note: PACM (Pacesetter members). PB – Personal Best time (congratulations).
SELECTED RESULTS FOR THE HALF MARATHON
Name Cat Gun Time Remarks
Azran Osman-Rani M35-39 1:53 CEO Air Asia X
Yin Yin Boey Kids 2:13 PACM – PB
Wong Bee Lee F50-54 2:39 PACM
Soo Yuet Ping F50-54 2:48 PACM
Rustam Affandi Zaihan M50-54 2:48 PACM President