Skip to main content

Gold Coast Marathon Preview

This weekend Australia's Gold Coast Marathon celebrates 40 years with a race that should see new course records in both the women's and men's races. On the women's side, favorite Agnes Barsosio of Kenya was quietly confident at the pre-race press conference, saying that she thought a time under last year's 2:25::34 course record was a probability and that a 2:23 wouldn't be surprising if the weather conditions were good enough. The forecast looks to be in her favor, so the main question will be how much support she can get from her strongest competition, fellow Kenyan Ruth Chebitok, local Jessica Trengove and the 2:27 Japanese duo of Ayaka Fujimoto and Miharu Shimokado.

Chebitok's 2:25:49 best from earlier this year in Barcelona puts her in range if she can repeat the same quality of performance. Trengove has the motivation of a $40,000 bonus from organizers for a time under 2:28. Coached by former men's half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato, Fujimoto told JRN her training has been good and that she's in shape to better the 2:27:08 she ran last year in Tokyo at age 18. Shimokado announced earlier this week that she was quitting her corporate team to go the independent route, so she will the extra motivation to get things off on the right foot.

The men's race, buried under a mountain of Japanese men chasing qualifying times for Japan's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, is planned to go out in 1:04:00 for the first half, an ambitious time for most of the field and one that would put both the 2:08:42 course and Australian all-comers record and the 2:08:30 MGC auto-qualifier in range. Only two men in the field have beaten that 2:08:42 mark in the last three years, Kenyan Victor Kipchirchir and the man who ran it, 2015-16 Gold Coast winner Kenneth Mungara. Douglas Chebii of Kenya was only 1 second off earlier this year in Seville, and last year's Gold Coast champ Takuya Noguchi of Japan wasn't far away with a 2:08:59 to outkick Mungara.

Not many Japanese men in the field have a realistic chance of going under 2:08:30, the real contenders being only Noguchi and 2018 Boston Marathon champ Yuki Kawauchi, last year's 3rd-placer. Kenta Murayama has potential with multiple sub-61 half marathons to his name, but so far he hasn't shown any aptitude in the marathon with just a 2:16:58 debut in 2016 and a 2:17:43 follow-up in March at Lake Biwa. Most of the 20 Japanese men in the field will be happy with a time near 2:11, which puts MGC qualification in range based on its two-race sub-2:11 average option.

Speaking to JRN pre-race, elite athlete director Ryan McDonald picked Japan-based 2:09:21 Kenyan Michael Githae, who runs for the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC club team in Shizuoka, as a potential dark horse. "He's run five marathons so far with every one since his debut a PB," McDonald told JRN. "It wouldn't surprise me to see him take that further here on the Gold Coast."

The Gold Coast Marathon starts at 7:20  local time on Sunday, July 1. The race will be streamed live worldwide, with JRN doing guest commentary for the fifth year in a row. Check here for splits and live results from both the marathon and accompanying half marathon and 10 km races.

40th Gold Coast Marathon Elite Field Highlights

Gold Coast, Australia, July 1, 2018
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Agnes Jeruto Barsosio (Kenya) - 2:20:59 (Paris 2017)
Ruth Chebitok (Kenya) - 2:25:49 (Barcelona 2018)
Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 2:27:01 (London 2017)
Ayaka Fujimoto (Japan) - 2:27:08 (Tokyo 2017)
Miharu Shimokado (Japan) - 2:27:54 (Nagoya Women's 2017)
Celia Sullohern (Australia) - 2:29:27 (Melbourne 2017)
Mao Uesugi (Japan) - 2:31:49 (Tokyo 2018)
Yukari Abe (Japan) - 2:35:47 (Nagoya Women's 2015)

Victor Kipchirchir (Kenya) - 2:07:39 (Valencia 2016)
Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) - 2:08:38 (Milan 2016)
Douglas Chebii (Kenya) - 2:08:43 (Seville 2018)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan) - 2:08:59 (Gold Coast 2017)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:09:01 (Gold Coast 2016)
Philip Sanga (Kenya) - 2:09:19 (Ljubljana 2016)
Michael Githae (Kenya) - 2:09:21 (Biwako 2018)
Chiharu Takada (Japan) - 2:10:43 (Gold Coast 2016)
Shoya Osaki (Japan) - 2:11:03 (Gold Coast 2017)
Takuya Fujikawa (Japan) - 2:11:59 (Beppu-Oita 2018)
Takuya Suzuki (Japan) - 2:12:08 (Beppu-Oita 2017)
Ryu Takaku (Japan) - 2:12:12 (Beppu-Oita 2018)
Shota Yamazaki (Japan) - 2:12:15 (Nobeoka 2018)
Shohei Kurata (Japan) - 2:13:16 (Hofu 2017)
Keiji Akutsu (Japan) - 2:13:26 (Tokyo 2015)
Kohei Futaoka (Japan) - 2:13:28 (Beppu-Oita 2018)
Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 2:14:00 (Warsaw 2017)
Kansuke Morihashi (Japan) - 2:14:25 (Tokyo 2018)
Jo Fukuda (Japan) - 2:15:11 (Hokkaido 2017)
Junji Katakawa (Japan) - 2:15:19 (Shizuoka 2016)
Saeki Makino (Japan) - 2:15:22 (Seoul 2015)
Kenta Murayama (Japan) - 2:16:58 (Tokyo 2016)

text and photos © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


Most-Read This Week

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Last Chance for Tokyo 2020? - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

With just under three weeks to go the organizers of the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon's 74th running have finally released the elite field. For Japanese men it's the last chance - almost - to qualify for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, the last domestic race with up to six spots up for grabs for anyone under 2:11:00 or 2:10:00 and more for anyone else under 2:08:30 or averaging under 2:11:00 between Lake Biwa and another marathon in the last year and a half. The window on that last two-race option runs through April 30th so there will still be a few chances left, but realistically for most of the men at Lake Biwa this is it, all or nothing for a home soil Olympic team.

There's a good international field of twelve African-born runners of eight nationalities at the 2:06 to 2:09 level to help pull the Japanese men to hit those times. Last year's winner Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) is back, ranked 6th in a field led by 2:06 men Deribe…

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …