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 HighlightsGold 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