Benita Willis, 2004 World Cross Country Champion and four-time Olympian gave the next generation of runners at one lucky school today the inside tips on how to run this year’s Gold Coast Marathon.
In celebration of Global Running Day which encourages kids to get active through running, students at Ashmore State School were put through their paces by Willis as winners of the Gold Coast Marathon Schools Team Challenge.
The school, which has over 60 entrants in the Garmin 2km and 4km Junior Dash events to be held on Saturday 6 July on Gold Coast Marathon race weekend, also won $1,000 cash and Garmin kids fitness trackers as part of their prize.
Head of Physical Education at Ashmore State School Andrew Robertson says up to 100 students attend the school’s popular Fitter, Faster Stronger programme, an optional activity designed to get kids into running.
“Running is the basis for most sports and is an opportunity for kids to get their heart rate up and enjoy their environment with their mates,” he said.
“The Gold Coast Marathon gives kids the opportunity to see that running is bigger than their classroom or even their school, allowing them the opportunity to get involved with a really large community.”
Ten-year-old Grace Rapaport from Ashmore will be running in the Garmin 4km Junior Dash and was excited to train with Benita Willis.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience for me! I love running because it is a good way to calm me down and spend energy,” she said.
The 34-year old running legend who holds the Australian women’s record over 2km, 3km, 5km 10km and the marathon taught students valuable lessons from her stellar running career.
“Running is hard to do if you’re not enjoying it. Throughout my career I’ve managed to keep the fun in running and kept it with me from a kid to being an adult,” she said.
Willis will be practising what she preaches and encouraging her two nieces and nephew to run alongside her in the Gold Coast Airport Fun Run.
Willis will also host the Gold Coast Marathon Live Stream along with running great Steve Moneghetti and Dave Robertson on Sunday 7 July commencing at 7am.
Global Running Day has also coincided with the announcement of the elite field in this year’s Gold Coast Marathon.
“Milly Clark will be one to watch after her great debut marathon in Amsterdam in which she ran well under 2:30. She was our best runner in Rio and she’s looking to qualify for Tokyo after recovering from an injury,” Willis said.
The Gold Coast Marathon will also play host to Kenya’s Kenneth Mungara and Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, famous for their 2016 photo finish when Mungara edged out Kawauchi by just one second to take home the title.
For novice runners or those wanting to tick off their first Gold Coast Marathon, Willis advises to keep a level head on race day.
“The excitement of the Gold Coast Marathon might mean you start off too fast. There are some really good pacers through the Pat Carroll running group so stick with them and you should be sure to stay even.”
Entries are open for the Garmin 2km Junior Dash and Garmin 4km Junior Dashevents.
For more information on the Gold Coast Marathon’s elite line up and to watch the elite athlete announcement video, click here.
Kickstart your kids into running with Benita Willis’s guide.
The Gold Coast Marathon is the first in Australia to hold an IAAF Road Race Gold Label and is expecting over 28,000 participants in eight races on the race weekend of 6-7 July.
The event will feature the Gold Coast Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Gold Coast Airport Fun Run, Garmin 4km Junior Dash and Garmin 2km Junior Dash.
The Gold Coast Marathon is organised by Events Management Queensland, a major event management company wholly owned by the Queensland Government as part of Tourism and Events Queensland.