Living in Europe makes it a challenge to run marathons in Australia. But – if there’s a will, there’s a way! We spend our summers in the Philippines and this year I carefully planned our schedule to include the 40th Gold Coast Marathon 2018.
We took the 10:30 PM seven-hour Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Sydney on June 28, 2018. We arrived at Centennial Terminal early and found out at the check-in counter that we had to apply for Australian visas prior to departure! What?! I thought our passports did not require visas! Fortunately, the visa application was easy online and immediately issued after payment of 21AUD by credit card. With the visa approval number in hand, the rest of the check-in process was smooth. Whew! I cannot take visas for granted and should check the country’s requirements before traveling.
We landed at 8:45 AM and was picked up from the airport by my brother and his wife. As first-timers to the Land Down Under, we excitedly made a beeline to the Sydney Opera House.
This trip was also a mini family reunion. I rarely see my brother now since he moved to Sydney and settled down almost 20 years ago.
It was just the beginning of winter in June for Sydney. The weather was bearably cool; my brother assured me that they have mild Aussie winters. We had a leisurely breakfast at one of the restaurants on the Sydney Cove, catching up with family developments and news.
Before we knew it, we had to make our way back to the airport for our TigerAir flight to Gold Coast at 4:10 PM.
We arrived in Gold Coast at 5:30 PM and took the SkyBus airport shuttle which stopped directly in front of our hotel. Bus fare was 38 AUD return per person which we booked online in advance.
Palazzo Versace Gold Coast was our decadent five-star hotel of choice for this trip.
Our room overlooked one of the many harbors of the city.
We slept very well that night with Versace bedsheets and pillows.
The breakfast choices were extensive.
Properly rested and nourished, we set about picking up the race bib at the Gold Coast Convention Center. The tropical weather in the city was a pleasant contrast to the one in Sydney. Richard wore shorts and I wore a sleeveless top; it was that warm.
The bus that stopped in front of our hotel took us directly to the race expo.
Race expos are always exciting but can be confusing. So many exhibitors and products to see, too many people wandering about. Thankfully, the layout of the expo was easy. We picked up our bib and browsed at products while making our way out.
We spent the rest of the day walking around Broadbeach North. Richard took photos of these interesting flora and fauna.
Dinner was at one of the restaurants in the mini mall next to our hotel.
Race day dawned bright and early. It took us 20 minutes to walk from our hotel to the start line on Marine Parade just a few feet away from the finish line at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.
The race started at 7:20 AM with a 6:40 time limit (gun time). The route, as expected, was lovely. The course took us all over the city, past the swanky hotels to the posh condominiums, to the beach roads with the views of the gold sands. Richard took these photos while waiting for me.
We had plenty of fluids and gels at the aid stations. They had shower mists and helpful temperature readers.
There were a couple of entertainments spots along the way.
I was slow (again!) and crossed the finish line with a net time of 5:54:57 and an official time of 6:01:37. We walked through the final shower mist and got out finisher’s T-shirts.
Richard was patiently waiting for me.
We walked slowly back to our hotel where I took a shower and rested before going out for dinner.
We slept in, leisurely took our time at breakfast, and had one last look at this beautiful hotel before checking out.
Nope, we didn’t take the Rolls Royce to the airport. Just couldn’t resist posing beside it.
We arrived in Sydney by 7:30 PM on Monday, July 2, 2018. I was glad to see my brother and his wife again. The evening was family time, their two grown children home for family dinner.
We were out and about the whole day the next day, visiting the Sydney Opera House again for better pictures.
We also stopped by Bondi Beach and lunch at one of the malls.
We flew back to Manila on July 4, 2018 on the Philippine Airlines flight that left at 10:30 AM and landed at 4:40 PM. It was such a nice visit with my brother and his family, and a great race in Gold Coast!