Gold Coast Marathon, Sunday 7 July, is set to host the IAAF World Athletics Club Gold Label Road Race combined with the 2019 Oceania Area Marathon Championships. With valuable Tokyo 2020 points attributed to the Oceania champion, there is a strong showing of local talent from the Oceania Federations. For men, the automatic qualifier is 2:11:30, and for women, it is 2:29:30. Attainable times, already achieved by numerous athletes.

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The Men’s race is intense and potentially unpredictable to call. Based on Personal Bests, Scott Westcott (PB 2:11:36) is leading the pack, closely followed by Liam Adams (PB 2:12:52). Adams has been in sensational form since finishing fifth in last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Marathon in April. He went on to win the Melbourne Marathon in October, was second in Japan’s Kobe marathon in November. Chasing the Australians will be the 2016 Oceania Champion Paul Martelletti from New Zealand (PB 2:16:49), followed by last years Oceania winner Jack Colreavy (AUS – PB 2:17:48). David Criniti (Aus – PB 2:17:57), New Zealanders, Daniel Jones (PB 2:18:40), Daniel Wallis (PB 2:19:24), 2017 Oceania Champion Dave Ridley (PB 2:20:06) will be in the mix. Fijian Athlete selected by Aths Fiji is Kennol Narayan, the 2018 Suva Marathon Champion. Kennol will be looking to better his 2016 Gold Coast Marathon Performance of 2:45.12.

The wildcards in this race include Australian 10,000m record holder Ben St Lawrence and marathon debutants Dejen Gebreselassie (half PB 1:02:39) and Nic Harman (half PB 1:03:46). However, this biggest threat of all is Zane Robertson. Now, aged 29, Zane is not only aiming to complete his first marathon but rather win it in an Oceania Record time. The record is currently held by Robert De Castella (AUS), set in 1986, in a time of 2:07:51.

Outside of the Oceania Championships, are runners from across the globe are targeting the Gold Coast Marathon as their launching pad to potential Olympic glory in Tokyo 2020. There is a strong international showing from the traditional powerhouses of Kenya and Japan, including 2013 champion and 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) and three-time Gold Coast Marathon champion and race record holder Kenneth Mungara (KEN). With nine Sub 2:11 runners in the Gold Coast Marathon, you can expect the Oceania group to be pushed.

In the women’s marathon, Aussie Milly Clark (PB 2:29:07), first Australian woman home in the Rio 2016 Olympic marathon, is the top-seeded Oceania female. Clark was forced to sit on the sidelines for 18 months recuperating from foot stress fractures. Gold Coast 2019 is her chance to tick three significant boxes โ€“ a PB, a podium finish and a ticket to Tokyo. Also in the hunt for the Oceania Crown is Sunshine Coast’s Melanie Panayiotou (PB 2:34:35), who finished eighth in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games marathon, followed by New Zealand’s Lydia O’Donnell (PB 2:39:01) and Marnie Ponton (PB 2:40:32).

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The race for Oceania glory in the ASICS Half Marathon is just as tight.

Aussie Jack Rayner is back on the Gold Coast to defend his ASICS Half Marathon title. This year Rayner clocked a 1:01:36 half marathon, placing third in Marugame, Japan, before an impressive 2:11:06 in his marathon debut in London. That time was under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying mark of 2:11:30. A trio of fellow-Aussies โ€“ Joel Tobin-White, Michael Roeger and Andrew Buchanan are likely to be in the Oceania medal hunt. Rajeshwar Prasad and Benjamin Ashkettle will be representing Fiji.

In the women’s ASICS Half Marathon, Australians Sinead Diver and Ellie Pashley have already posted Olympic marathon qualifiers this year and are likely to race for overall and Oceania honours. Diver’s recent form in the marathon has been even more impressive, clocking a 2:24:11 in April’s London Marathon to not only etch herself as the third fastest Australian female over that distance but also bettering the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying time of 2:29:30. Three-time race winner and race record holder Lisa Weightman is near career best form and Virginia McCormick, who ran 1:12:25 to place second in the 2016 ASICS Half Marathon and then ran 2:29:14 in the 2017 Gold Coast Marathon which is the second fastest ever in that race by an Aussie woman.

There is a $40,000 prize pool on offer for any Australian male who runs a sub 2:10 and any Aussie female who can get below 2:25. The first three open men and women Oceania athletes to finish the Gold Coast Marathon and the ASICS Half Marathon will be presented with Oceania Championship medals. Another set of medals will be given to the top three Pacific Island athletes.

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