I have a lot of friends who enter marathons, triathlons and other running events, but this was my first real go at a large event like the Gold Coast Marathon weekend.
A friend of mine was putting together a team of people in the name of a charity, the Red Beard Challenge – Run for BP, to participate in the Gold Coast Marathon weekend events. The Red Beard Challenge – Run for BP raises money for Police Legacy.
I wanted to be part of the team to support this great cause. However, having a heart condition isn’t really compatible with running a marathon or a half marathon so I chose the shortest run I could, the 5.7km run. I knew this distance was within my capability as I run 5km on a regular basis. I registered before I could back out and started planning for the trip to the Gold Coast.
I have participated in a few fun runs before for charity – the Run with Dad’s 5km run (prostate cancer) and a Colour Run (it also to raise money for cancer). I also ran 5km in the Stack Run a few years ago in outback Queensland to prove I could run again after a heart attack. However, I knew nothing about the formal Marathon events so it was all new to me. In fact, it was a little bit daunting, particularly knowing there were 10,000 people registered for the marathon alone and nearly another 10,000 people registered for the half marathon. I was a newby at this sort of event and didn’t know what to expect.
The Gold Coast Marathon weekend events are so well organised with many volunteers supporting registration. collecting of race numbers, entertainment and the co-ordination of so many different runs over the weekend. Thumbs up to the organisers and volunteers who really do put on a great weekend of events and things of interest for those who love running.
I have to say I LOVED every minute of that short run. My pace times were much faster than I usually run. I think it was the magnificent views of the Gold Coast early in the morning and the great flat running surface that made the difference. Where I normally run to keep fit it is uneven rocky ground, it can be 40 degrees, the air is far from clean and you have to keep an eye out so you are not chased by stray dogs. To run along the river in the early morning on a flat road with people cheering on was such a treat. I am sure this is why I ran so much faster than I normally do.
There were people playing Jazz music on street corners along the run, the crowd was amazing. There were complete strangers calling out my name (from my number pinned to my shirt) encouraging me to keep going. There were people running in costumes. The final 700 meters were the probably the hardest part of the run, but the most exciting. I knew the finish line wasn’t too far off. There were so many people cheering that it gave me the extra spirit I needed to finish strong. It was such a great experience from start to finish.
There were a number of awesome people who joined the Red Beard Challenge – Run for BP team. We all wore our red beard shirts. My friend, the organiser, finished her first (and last, so she says) half marathon. It was an awesome achievement for her. There were entrants from the team getting behind this great cause in every one of the runs over the weekend. It was great to see everyone finished strong wearing their Red Beard shirts.
The next day I got to watch the full marathon at the 38km mark and then walked along the beach into Surfers Paradise to watch the majority of the runners go past. It was nothing short of impressive. At the 38km mark the leaders were sprinting. What amazing athletes they were to watch. I checked their times and their average pace for the ENTIRE marathon was double my pace doing only the short run…..for 42 kilometers, consistently. Oh, to be so fit! I was completely inspired.
Those of you who have completed a marathon, a half marathon or a shorter run in an event like this will know how awesome it feels. If you have never considered running in an event like this you should. The shorter runs are for people, like me, who can cover a short distance but still get to enjoy the event. You can walk, push a pram, run, run and walk, whatever you like. You can do the full marathon or you can start small like I did. If you have never done it, get out of your comfort zone and give it a go. You won’t regret it one bit.
I have to warn you though, it seems to be the beginning of a possible addiction. I am now thinking about what other running events I can register for. I have been checking out the run schedule for the year so I can join two of my favourite things, running and travel.
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