Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Exclusive: Interview with Andrew & Sue O'Brien of PARTNERUNNING about the Gold Coast Airport Marathon

What better way to get to learn about an oversea marathon than from the local runners? We are lucky to have interviewed not one, but two runners from Australia about the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

They are Andrew and Sue O'Brien, or better known as “Couple on the Run” after the side by side, they ran 8 marathons in 8 countries in 8 weeks together in 2008. They have been running the world together since.

Briefly tell us about Gold Coast Airport Marathon
Sue: The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is a running festival in the true sense of the word. Over 2 days you have some of the shorter events up to the 10K on the Saturday of this running weekend festival and then you’ve got the half marathon and marathon on the Sunday. It really is a running carnival atmosphere, huge expo, run over multiple days which is an opportunity for racers, for runners in general to both pickup their bibs and to mix and mingle and the course itself.

Andrew: The Gold Coast in southern Queensland is about an hour drive south of Brisbane. Depending on where you are coming from you can fly into the Gold Coast or Brisbane.

Sue: The course is a big out and back. Starting in the Southport vicinity and then running south down towards well say towards past Broadbeach down towards Burleigh Heads and then turning and running back past the start area and then north up towards Runaway Bay before returning back into the finish zone. It does create the interest of you going past the finish then going out again and coming back. If you have spectators they can see you a few times and it is a very flat and fast course.

Andrew: The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s premier tourist destinations with a mix of beautiful beaches and the hinterland. There are many accommodation options for hotels and apartments. With the theme parks and restaurants it has got it all.

When did you first run GCAM?
Sue: Not sure when our first run at the Gold Coast was but we have tried to make it a regular part of our racing calendar each year.

We try and run each year but it is a little harder after standing up at the expo and working on the stage than it would be if we were seriously trying to run a super fast time at this event.

Andrew: Yes so I think that’s often is a case of “do as we say not do as we do” when it comes to the Gold Coast Airport Marathon because spending 3 days at the expo and all those stage shows and the irony is that often in each of those shows we will be answering questions or doing little tip bits on how to do the preparation right and one of the ways to do that is keep off your feet in the days leading up to and when you’re working at the expo that’s not possible.

So in recent times it’s never been our fastest but we’re not there necessarily to run our fastest time we’re there to have a good time and enjoy it and anytime is a good time when it comes to getting the opportunity to run at the Gold Coast because it is so spectacular.

We have done it some pretty good times there in the early days when we weren’t working and in more recent times I think we sort of coming in around the 4 or 4:15 depending on how many photos we take, who we run with and how much distraction we get.

What are some of the memorable, funny, proud and other moments that you’ve experienced running in the Gold Coast Marathon?
Andrew: One for me is that for many years we ran the half marathon on the Gold Coast because we were there with the young family and once the kids were old enough to stay in the apartment for themselves what we would often do is Sue and I will go out early and run the half marathon and then we run back to our apartment, pick up the kids, and either run and or walk the 7.5km or the 10K with the family.

Sue: This event has become a must do event for the running community and one of the things we love about participating in events all around Australia is the opportunity to catch up with our interstate friends that we don’t often see and this is one of the events that brings people together and out on the course there is just constantly with the out and back nature you do past people and have a quick photo if you got the chance, catch up with people. That is really memorable for me about the Gold Coast Marathon each year. I might only see these people physically once or twice a year even though we’re in contact over Facebook whatever and we might not even catch up with them at the start or finish to have a chat afterwards or before but we do actually see them out on the course and just exchange pleasantries, that’s the main thing for me.

Andrew: Another proud moment that is specific for the Gold Coast Marathon but it does appear elsewhere is because we do the expo we’ve had 2 or 3 years now where after or just before each of the events people say “I bought your book last year and here we are 12 months later I’m about 2 or have just run the marathon with my husband, wife, partner” and so in terms of talking about proud moments well when people “we haven’t been running together, read your book, and then come back a year later and run a marathon together” that’s kind of special. And so because the expo we’re getting to see people you actually get often face to face have that conversation with people whereas for other events around the world, it doesn’t happen every weekend but it happens quite regularly it’s more of a Facebook or an email type message of “I’ve read the book and now I’ve done it” you don’t actually have the face to face conversation so for those people let us know that we really appreciate that hopes lots more will take the step and run not just the Gold Coast but other events.

What are the differences in running in Malaysia and the Gold Coast?
Sue: My first thing would be for both climates are warm usually but the Gold Coast Marathon is very cool at the start and I know that a lot of Malaysians are going to be taken back by how cold it is at the start which is something to be aware of if you are coming from an Asian country.

When we have run in races in Asia, Malaysia, Singapore it’s been warm at the start, it’s going to be warm or humid during the event but it’s actually being warm at the start and we haven’t needed warm up jacket or rubbish bag pin liners or anything to keep ourselves warm we’ve been able to just go to the start, run, and maybe not even need clothing to put on afterwards but with Gold Coast Marathon even though the daytime temperature or during your event might be a low that when you’re waiting at the start.

Andrew: Yes it can be a cool breeze and of course in Malaysia and you might be running for 1, 2 or even a bit more hours of darkness Gold Coast so that’s another aspect along the beach but it is beautiful and stunning so I think that cooler temperatures and the day light start would be the difference between running Gold Coast and Malaysia.

Andrew: For some people one other difference is the complete road closure and the number of runners can be a little bit different to some of which we have done particularly the crowded start and those kinds of things.
Sue: And often the crowd doesn’t thin out particularly in the Gold Coast Marathon the way that it may do in some of those events in Malaysia. People commented that you have to really pick your way through the crowd.

What are your the top 3 reasons to run the Gold Coast Airport Marathon?
Andrew: The first reason is the complete running destination whether it be the pictures, the apartments, the skyline, the Hinterland, the access to restaurants, various modes of accommodation you can have high rise overlooking the beach, you can have apartments set back from it, you can have a hotel, you can self cater, easy day trips to down the Byron Bay, you get whale watching up to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast, the expo, the whole thing it’s just the complete running destination it’s something that is great for the family whether they are running the different events or whether they are just coming along for the holiday afterwards it’s got it all so the destination I think is really it’s Australia’s number 1 running destination.

Sue: Yeah well it does the beaches and the when you do get to see your Australian bush land, animals all of that sort of thing so great tourist opportunity.

Andrew: Okay second reason to run.

Sue: Well as we mentioned the expo this is the complete running experience as well as being a great destination, you’ve got your running experience which means that organized, there is going to be transport potentially taking you in shuttle buses to and from the start back to central locations close to various accommodation point. So it removes that stress of how do I get to the race, how do I get home from the race, and again as we mentioned runners from all around the world sharing this community atmosphere is one of the special things and the 2 day option you could chose to run both days if you want to have a go in 10K and a half or a 10K and a marathon or a 5K and a 10K or whatever it is you can take a lot of running over this weekend and make it a big weekend of running.

Andrew: Absolutely and the third top reason is the course it’s a mixture of fast, flat, great crowd, great scenery and so whether you’re an experienced or developing runner really setting out for a personal best or whether you’re a first timer or someone just finding your way this course is great well serve, well organized, it’s got it all.

Sue: Fast, flat, long straight stretches of running to really get your rhythm going of you are worried about that sort of thing and of course (inaudible) aid stations that at no stage if we ever seen any aid stations run out of electrolyte on the Gold Coast course, very well provided for.

Some tips for first time runners in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon?
Sue: Well the big one we always suggest is try to visit the expo on the Friday if possible as all day Saturday is very busy. You don’t want to get caught into standing around chatting to friends and perhaps not hydrating or getting a proper nutrition the day before your race.

Andrew: Yes and so because of the location at the Gold Coast convention center the expo is quite spectacular and so to go along on the Friday, visit all the stalls or even the Thursday visit all the stalls and check out some of the shows.

I think for first timers at the Gold Coast another advantage is the large number of locations where you can stay along the Gold Coast and easily catch the buses to the start. They have various designated pick up points so you don’t need to have a car, you don’t need to have the hassle of driving you can just pretty much walk across the road 300 meters for most of the major accommodation destinations or the bus and that will zoom you to the start and zoom you back out.

Sue: Exactly and bring you back from the finish as well. This shuttle buses keep taking runners back to the convention center back to those locations after the event which is also often something that we forget about is important.

Andrew: And one more tip for first timers Sue.

Sue: Be prepared for it to be cold at the start but also sunny and warm during the race, rain and all of that associated with it. It might be winter in Australia but that sun at the Gold Coast still packs a kick.

Andrew: Yes and probably the last one is to take your camera as there are lots of great views.

How do you reward yourself after the Gold Coast Airport Marathon?
Andrew: Now there are lots of options Sue which usually include a nice meal at one of the restaurants.

Sue: Yes it is usually a very nice meal and of course Queensland seafood if you like seafood is a bit of a draw card here for some of the wonderful restaurants around but also one of the things we like to do is to try and potentially catch up with some of those runners to share the experience.

Andrew: Now the Gold Coast and Queensland are famous for their surf clubs which make the beach safe and provide really nice bistro style dining. A great place to relax after the race is to head to one of the surf clubs.

The other thing in terms of post race rewards is the fantastic tourist activities. What better than heading off to MovieWorld, Sea World or Dreamworld or one of those themed parks if you’ve got family and friends and good thing to always do afterward the race because it doesn’t matter how much time you spend on your feet, you can walk around and enjoy the whole thing. Depending on what you enjoy you can take long walks along the beaches or go for a drive to Byron Bay.

What are some of the must see places and must do things to do on the Gold Coast?
Sue: Well aside from the theme parks and restaurants it is all about the beaches. Whether it is running along the well developed path or depending on the tide, there are large sections of the Gold Coast beaches that you can run along the hard sand when the tide is out. That is quite spectacular and depending on the temperature, sitting on the beach or maybe talking a swim.

Andrew: Okay so I suppose the other thing to say here is that the Gold Coast Marathon have lots of wonderful online links as to all the various opportunities, the duck tour is a great opportunity to get around strolling around Surfers Paradise in the evening, various night clubs if you’re into that sort of thing and lots of Australian souvenir type stores.

Sue: Well I think we’ve touched upon that it really is Australia’s top international marathon, it attracts so many people from overseas, for some of the reasons that we’ve mentioned but it also is a great insight into Australian beach culture and I think that’s one of the big attractions it is the holiday destination as well as it does become attractive.

Andrew: Now with the expo are you going for a couple of days it’s a great way to see the latest supplies just pick up some good deals and discounts and discover products which who make and/or distribute them is a real highlight and it is a course I think which stands out that is great for first timers, it’s great for people that might have run 1 or 2 half marathons and marathons and just looking into get better and improve and it certainly one for experienced runners and people who strive for personal best because it’s flat and fast and for most people very good conditions in terms of temperature.

Sue: Yes winter in the southern hemisphere and a place that is going to provide potentially the perfect weather conditions for a good run as well as the course.

PARTNERUNNING recorded and broadcast the original answers to our questions on May 15th on The Partnerunning Show. You can listen to it here.

The 36th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be staged on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 July 2014 in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world in Queensland, Australia.

Find out more about Gold Coast Airport Marathon at and

For those keen to run #GCAM14, there is a special 5/7DAYS RUN GOLD COAST tour package fr RM2,358 which includes:

Accommodation @ Wyndham apartment or similar (3 or 5 nights)
Return airfares to Gold Coast with AirAsia X
Applicable government/airport taxes and fuel surcharge *
20Kg checked in baggage & 7kg hand-luggage
Return airport transfer at Gold Coast
Return transfer to Sport Expo (collection of race kit)
One-way transfer to race starting point on 06th July
For details, click HERE.

p/s: Sadly in 2014, due to another commitment, Andrew and Sue will not be at the Gold Coast and doing The Partnerunning Show Live each day at the expo.

Note: Photos courtesy of Partnerunning.

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