RUNNING REWARD: Respected runner Clay Dawson is thrilled to cross the line as winner of last year's Sunshine Coast Marathon.
RUNNING REWARD: Respected runner Clay Dawson is thrilled to cross the line as winner of last year's Sunshine Coast Marathon. Darryn Smith

Marathon man's massive mission

RUNNING five marathons just weeks apart is enough to test the mental and physical stamina of any elite athlete.

However, Ipswich's highly respected marathon man Clay Dawson is keen to accept such a massive challenge - "as an excuse to have some fun''.

"I approach it in a unique way as well because I don't think I'm a gifted marathoner in terms of speed or anything like that,'' Dawson said.

"I'm still a fair way off the Olympics and stuff but I think my recovery capacity is what sets me apart.

"Most marathoners are laid off their feet for two weeks after a marathon. I'm training the next day.

"For some reason, my body backs up pretty well.''

Having added more marathon-distance Sunday runs to his recent training program, the Rosewood State High School arts teacher plans to increase his 2018 competitive schedule even more.

He has his sights set on up to five marathons in addition to Ipswich's annual Park2Park 10km race he has dominated for a number of years.

He's excited about launching this year's campaign at Sunday's inaugural Greater Springfield Marathon.

"It's the first marathon in Ipswich that's been officially run,'' he said. "So there's a bit of a sentimental reason behind entering as well.

"It would be good for a local to win it. I'd like to throw my hat in the ring.

"If any other local steps up, that would be just as good I reckon.''

Running close to home appeals to Dawson.

"For me, and my training and my type of racing, it's the perfect lead-up race,'' he said, praising the Springfield event organisers.

Dawson is also focused on the Gold Coast Marathon three weeks later, before planning to contest Ipswich's Park2Park in late July, the Brisbane Marathon on August 5 and the Sunshine Coast Marathon on August 19.

All going well, he'll head to Sydney for the Australian Marathon Championships in September.

He's attempting so many marathons after a superb 2017 season where he set national records in his age group and regularly placed in Queens-land's leading 42.2km and half marathon events.

But as always, Dawson retains a common sense attitude as he continues to excel.

"I'm not treating it as the Olympics and the best way to approach any kind of marathon is to treat it as an excuse to have some fun and get out there and test yourself a bit,'' he said.

With such a big program ahead, Dawson has focused on training regularly with Ipswich's NANCI crew and doing his own extra work.

"I've kept my head down and upping the mileage,'' he said.

In recent events, Dawson came fourth in the state half marathon championships in Brisbane and finished second at an In Training Twilight half marathon.

"I actually ran a quicker time over a hillier course there so that was very pleasing,'' he said.

Sunday's Greater Springfield Marathon Festival features running events over seven distances from a 1km family run or walk to the 42.2km marathon.

The course starts on Springfield Central Boulevard.

Dawson expects to see other top runners from Ipswich compete, including his regular training colleagues in the NANCI crew, who work together regularly from their Limestone Park base.

While he's yet to see the course, Dawson expects it to feature a number of hills.

"I think you'll feel it on the sixth and seventh lap,'' he said.

"But hopefully I've done enough to put me in some sort of contention. That would be great and that would be a dream''.

Clay's 'fun' schedule

Sunday: Greater Springfield Marathon

July 1: Gold Coast Marathon

July 29: Park2Park 10km

August 5: Brisbane Marathon

August 19: Sunshine Coast Marathon

September 16: Australian Marathon Championships, Sydney



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