When was the last time you visited a doctor? If it’s been too long, kill two birds with one stone and join the iconic Dr. Derek Li at one of the international running community’s favourite places: Queensland, Australia for the 2017 Gold Coast Airport Marathon. The fast, flat terrain attracts beginners and legends alike and if you introduce yourself to Dr. Li, he may show you the proper way to take your pulse.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s why joining Dr. Li in Australia is the right prescription for you: He has skillfully balanced a brilliant career as a general practitioner with conquering endurance runs and triathlons for a decade, setting international records for performance. Dr. Li is an outspoken proponent of theories and practices related to the bio-mechanical aspects of running that keep him safe and injury free. We couldn’t wait to interview him!
RS: Why will you return to the GCAM for a second time when other runners aren’t keen to repeat events?
Derek: Because apart from the awesome Gold Coast scenery, I like the fact that people go there to run fast and set personal bests. It’s a flat course, weather is predictably cool and logistics are excellent. Traveling there is affordable, so all of this makes the GCAM an attractive race to run.
RS: Does one GCAM memory stand out more than others?
Derek: This will be my second time doing the Gold Coast since 2013 when it was my first-ever serious marathon, so everything about that meet stands out. I ran a huge personal best faster than my original goal; therefore, I wish to go back this year to hopefully recreate that success.
RS: With whom will you travel to Queensland for the race?
Derek: I will be traveling with my wife. A couple of close running buddies are also making the journey to the GCAM so we will all do the marathon together.
RS: Are there specific things you want to do in Queensland before and after the marathon?
Derek: Before I run, I will give myself plenty of time to browse the race expo, as there were so many good deals to be had last time I visited. It’s fun to spot brands like Roosport and Ronhill, which can be difficult to find. A superstition of mine calls for a bread bowl soup for dinner before the big race day because that’s what I ate at the Fisherman’s Wharf Tavern on SeaWorld Drive before my GCAM 2013 success.
RS: Can you recommend things runners might like to do during their visit?
Derek: Food in Queensland is exquisite! I recommend a relaxing time by the beach on the day before the race and a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary afterward. When I was there in 2013, I didn’t visit the Sanctuary so it’s first on my 2017 list. Also, I want to repeat my 2013 Paradise Jet Boating experience. I highly recommend this exciting attraction. For some, it’s even better than the Shotover Jet ride in Queenstown NZ!
RS: As one of Singapore’s top distance runners, do you view the Gold Coast as ideal training ground?
Derek: The weather is right in the sweet spot for distance runners at 10- to 20-degrees Celsius in the mornings and evenings. Add to idyllic temperatures, those long, straight roads along the coast and nature trails farther inland that offer plenty of diversity. So yes, that makes GCMA ideal for distance training.
RS: Are you aiming for a personal best at GCAM? How’s your preparation going so far?
Derek: Yes, I am aiming for a personal best and my preparations have thus far been right on track.
RS: Having participated in marathons around the world, how would you rate GCAM overall?
Derek: In terms both spectator- and athlete-friendly races, I think this is one of the best in the world. The atmosphere is relaxed and the race village is so welcoming. Even getting to start line is convenient. This race’s organization is comparable to the more renowned marathons like Berlin and New York.
RS: Can you suggest Dos and Don’ts for runners undertaking the GCAM for the first time?
Derek: I think it is important to pace oneself well and be prepared for the event’s one hill at around 30km into the marathon. Get past that hill feeling strong and your potential to finish quickly on the rest of the flat terrain is excellent. I can’t think of any Don’ts at the moment!
RS: What stands out most when you recall the GCAM?
Derek: The weather and water support. The weather is always nice and cool and the winds tend to be gentle for most of the race. Organizers give out bottles of water at various points, which is a rare treat, as cups are so much harder to handle. Little touches like handing out bottled water helps me recall one race over another—which is another reason I remember Dubai, too!
RS: How do you compare the GCAM to other races in Australia and throughout the world?
Derek: I have not run other races in Australia, but when I think of competing outside Singapore, I almost always think of weather first. Thus far, Tokyo and Frankfurt are my only experiences in much cooler weather. Berlin and Boston have the potential to be warmer or more humid.
RS: Where do you usually stay when you come to Queensland for the GCAM?
Derek: I don’t have a preference, though if asked to choose, I stay in the Surfer’s Paradise community, as there are more restaurants and activities there. This neighbourhood is also in close proximity to the beach.
RS: Name one thing you love most in Gold Coast and why?
Derek: The local weather and scenery. The beaches are extraordinarily beautiful and even rival the Greek Isles. I could never forget the people who treat runners with such kindness and courtesy, either.
Always thinking of trying out a “Runcation”? Take your first step after reading this interview and join Dr Derek at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon this year!
You can sign up for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2017 with Scenic Travel and have them plan a wonderful Runcation for you too.