Top elite fields announced for 39th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Wednesday 7 June

A flat and fast course will provide the stage for the 39th Gold Coast Airport Marathon on Sunday 2 July with one of the strongest elite fields ever assembled to fight out the 42.195km race.

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon has attained an IAAF Road Race Gold Label for the fourth successive year, the highest certification a marathon can be awarded by the world governing body.

This year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon will feature a stellar cast of elite runners and wheelchair athletes headlined by the return of six previous race winners – Kenneth Mungara (men 2015 & 2016), Yuki Kawauchi (men 2013), Risa Takenaka (women 2015), Kurt Fearnley (wheelchair men 2016), Richard Nicholson (wheelchair men 2012 & 2013) and Christie Dawes (wheelchair women 2016).

The countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, Japan, Eritrea, Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia have runners seeded in the top 10 for the marathon, while Australia holds a very strong hand in the wheelchair marathon.

Events Management Queensland CEO Cameron Hart said the quality of the elite fields is a testament to the event’s growing reputation amongst world marathons.

“I am delighted to announce the elite start list for this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon contains six previous winners and dozens more striving to add their name to the honour roll,” Mr Hart said.

“Last year, we witnessed a course record in the women’s race, an epic finish between Kenneth Mungara and Yuki Kawauchi in the men’s race and record-setting wins by Kurt Fearnley and Christie Dawes in the wheelchair marathons.

“This year, with the confirmation of the elite fields, we are sure to see another great renewal of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon with race records under threat once again.”

Men’s Race

Top 10 Seeded Runners

Kenneth Mungara (Kenya)
Age: 43
PB: 2:07:36 – Prague, 2011

  • Winner of the 2015 & 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon
  • Holds race & Australian All Comers record of 2:08:42
  • Holds two of fastest four marathon times ever recorded in Australia

Yuki Kawauchi (Japan)
Age: 30
PB: 2:08:14 – Seoul, 2013

  • Winner of the 2013 Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:10:01
  • This was an equal race & Australian All Comers record at the time
  • Preparing for the marathon at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in athletics

Willy Kibor (Kenya)
Age: 31
PB: 2:08:32 – Vienna, 2012

  • Most recent time under 2:10:00 is his 2:09:58 set in Milan in 2015

Jonah Chesum (Kenya)
Age: 28
PB: 2:08:57 – Barcelona, 2017

  • Winner of the 2017 Barcelona Marathon on 12 March in his PB

Tewelde Hidru (Eritrea)
Age: 29
PB: 2:09:16 – Frankfurt, 2015

  • 4th in the 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:09:33
  • Represented Eritrea in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Benjamin Bitok (Kenya)
Age: 36
PB: 2:09:16 – Rome, 2017

Mathew Kipsaat (Kenya)
Age: 30
PB: 2:09:19 – Rome, 2017

Feyera Gemeda Dadi (Ethiopia)
Age: 33
PB: 2:09:42 – Dongying, 2016

Abraraw Misganaw Tegegne (Ethiopia)
Age: 28
PB: 2:09:47 – Ljubljana, 2016

Douglas Chebii (Kenya)
Age: 24
PB: 2:09:48 – Seville, 2017

Interesting Statistics

  • Last year’s winner was Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) in 2:09:00.
  • The race record of 2:08:42 was set by Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) in 2015.
  • 10 runners in the men’s field have personal bests under 2:10:00.
  • If he wins this year, Kenneth Mungara will join Margaret Reddan (1984-1986) as the only runners to have won three consecutive Gold Coast Airport Marathons.
  • Three runners in the field hold five of the fastest 10 times ever recorded in Australia – Kenneth Mungara (#1: 2:08:42 – Gold Coast, 2015; #4: 2:09:00 – Gold Coast, 2016); Yuki Kawauchi (#5:2:09:01 – Gold Coast, 2016; #10: 2:10:01 – Gold Coast, 2013); and, Tewelde Hidru (#9: 2:09:33 – Gold Coast, 2015).
  • Kenya has provided the winner of the men’s race nine times in the race’s history including the past three winners. Japan has provided six male winners with Yuki Kawauchi the most recent winner in 2013. Ethiopia has provided one male winner in 2012.

Women’s Race

Top 10 Seeded Runners

Abebech Afework Bekele (Ethiopia)
Age: 26
PB: 2:23:33 – Dubai, 2015

  • PB was set when 8th in the 2015 Dubai Marathon
  • 2nd in the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:24:26

Letebrhan Haylay Gebreslasea (Ethiopia)
Age: 26
PB: 2:25:01 – Dongying, 2017

  • Winner of the 2017 Yellow River Estuary Marathon in Dongying, China on 7 May
  • Winner of the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon in 2:26:15

Mercy Kibarus (Kenya)
Age: 33
PB: 2:26:52 – Seoul, 2017

  • 3rd in the 2017 Seoul Marathon in her PB on 19 March
  • Winner of the 2016 Taipei Marathon in 2:36:33

Meseret Kitata Tolwak (Ethiopia)
Age: 23
PB: 2:27:17 – Frankfurt, 2015

  • 5th in the 2015 Frankfurt Marathon in her PB
  • Winner of the 2015 Rome Marathon in 2:30:25

Leah Kiprono (Kenya)
Age: 37
PB: 2:27:39 – Zhengzhou, 2016

  • Winner of the 2016 Zhengzhou Marathon in her PB
  • 3rd in last year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:34:02

Risa Takenaka (Japan)
Age: 27
PB: 2:28:09 – Nagoya, 2015

  • Winner of the 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:28:25
  • Holds 4th fastest time in the race’s history

Mary Davies (New Zealand)
Age: 34
PB: 2:28:56 – Toronto, 2012

Misaki Kato (Japan)
Age: 26
PB: 2:31:04 – Osaka, 2016

Virginia Moloney (Australia)
Age: 27
PB: 2:34:27 – Melbourne, 2016

Elizeba Cherono (Netherlands)
Age: 29
PB: Debut marathon (1:10:10 half marathon – Breda, 2015)

Interesting Statistics

  • Last year’s winner was Misato Horie (Japan) in 2:26:40. This was also the race record.
  • Seven runners in the women’s field have personal bests under 2:30:00.
  • Japan has been a dominant force in the women’s race with a total of 14 victories including the past five. Ethiopia has provided one female winner in 2011.

Key Points

  • The male and female winner of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon will win 20,000 AUD in prize money, with additional time bonuses available for top five placegetters. Visit for the breakdown.
  • As part of a sister marathon arrangement, two placegetters at last year’s Kobe Marathon in Japan, Yuki Yagi (men) and Hirono Shintate (women), will line up in the elite fields of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
  • In a race within a race, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon will feature the IAAF Oceania Area Marathon Championships with a particularly strong line up of Australian and New Zealand runners.
  • Margaret Reddan (1981, 1984-1986) and Pat Carroll (1984-1985, 1988, 1997) have the most wins in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon at four.

Wheelchair Marathon

Australian Paralympic stars and last year’s winners Kurt Fearnley and Christie Dawes have confirmed their participation in this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon wheelchair marathon races.

Fearnley, who is also an ambassador for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, won last year’s wheelchair marathon in a race record of 1:30:18 before going on to win silver at the Rio Paralympic Games in the marathon only one second behind the gold medallist.

Fearnley will be joined on the start line in the men’s race by fellow Aussies two-time race winner Richard Nicholson and four-time paralympian Richard Colman.

The women’s wheelchair marathon will feature a current and a future star of parasports.

Dawes was victorious in last year’s race in a record time of 1:43:45 and, like Fearnley, jetted off to Rio for the Paralympic Games. She placed a credible 7th in the marathon, improving her personal best to1:42:59and won a silver medal in the 4x400m relay.

The women’s race will also feature 19-year-old Sara Tait from the Gold Coast, taking on only her second full marathon after last year placing a gallant third behind Dawes in 2:20:15.

Tait primarily competes as a paratriathlete and is the current PT1 open world champion for both the triathlon and duathlon.

She harbours ambitions to better herself in the wheelchair marathon showcasing her potential with a win in the wheelchair 15km race in 2015 as a 17-year-old in 47:22.

The Queensland Government is proud to support the 2017 Gold Coast Airport Marathon through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

The 39th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July.

Set to attract more than 27,000 participants of all ages and abilities, this year’s race program will feature the Gold Coast Airport Marathon over 42.195km, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, The Star Gold Coast 5.7km Challenge, Zespri 4km Junior Dash and Zespri 2km Junior Dash.

To enter or for more information visit