Versatile Dawson to don Qld colours at nationals

BEST FOOT FORWARD: Rising Ipswich athlete Clay Dawson is preparing to face his longest challenge at this weekend’s Australian Marathon Championships.
BEST FOOT FORWARD: Rising Ipswich athlete Clay Dawson is preparing to face his longest challenge at this weekend’s Australian Marathon Championships. David Nielsen

IN just about every running challenge he's taken on, Clay Dawson has excelled.

An exception was the recent Bridge to Brisbane where everything went wrong from having the flu, being at the doctors until 10 o'clock the night before the race and the train running late.

"I literally ran up to the start," he said.

Even quality runners like Dawson can have an off day, as rare as that is.

However, it's with his trademark 'have a go attitude' that the Rosewood State High School teacher is heading to Sydney for his first marathon on Sunday.

Dawson is representing Queensland at the Australian Marathon Championships.

While he's impressed over 10km and in half marathons this season, Dawson concedes going the extra distance wasn't planned at this stage of his career.

However, backed by coach and experienced Ipswich marathon runner Matt Casos, Dawson accepted an unexpected offer to race for Queensland.

That came about after the 32-year-old was one of Queensland's best finishers at the Australian Half Marathon Championships on the Gold Coast earlier this year.

The Queensland team won bronze and Dawson was urged to represent his state over the longer distance.

Although only starting half marathon running this year, Dawson sees tackling his first marathon as a continuation of his steady progress.

"Very much so," he said.

"Matt said from the start that he would have liked me to run a marathon this year and I had that in one part of my mind.

"The rest of my brain was kind of saying 'oh geez, that's a long way, that's a lot of work'.

"But I just kind of stumbled into it. That's why when I saw the application for the marathon, I thought I'll have a crack at it and let the Gods decide."

Making quick decisions and succeeding is nothing new to Dawson.

On his honeymoon in Vietnam in May, he decided to enter a 10km run for fun. However, he received a shock when told he had to keep running the half marathon distance in Phu Quoc.

After being unable to convince officials he was in the 10km race, Dawson continued on and won the longer challenge.

"Mentally that's helped me out a lot," Dawson said.

"I'm not a natural runner at all so in terms of the speedier events like the 5 and 10k which I thought were my thing, I'm starting to realise I'm a bit more mentally tough as a runner.

"It's much more handy for me to know that I've got at least a psychological advantage of being pretty mentally tough.

"It's going to come to fruition on Sunday, I hope."

Dawson said support from Casos and training partner Kym Jaenke have been invaluable.

"Every time I go off the rails a bit mentally and doubt myself, they are sort of in my corner going 'don't be an idiot, you'll get through it'," he said.

Casos backed Dawson.

"I've been coaching and mentoring him since he made his decision to run a full marathon and I'm very pleased with his training and lead-up races," Casos said.

"His run at the Sydney City2Surf in August was sensational and confirmed that he was on track to make his debut over the marathon."

In his usual laidback style, Dawson is taking it in his stride.

"If it all goes to plan, it will be great. But if not, it's a learning curve and it's cost me nothing," the Ipswich runner said.

Consistent Performer

Clay Dawson's recent successes leading into his marathon debut on Sunday.

  • 3rd Redland Bay Koala 10km.
  • 3rd Doomben Queensland Half Marathon.
  • 1st Brisbane Road Runners King and Queen of Mt Cootha.
  • 1st Caloundra Foreshore Fun Run 10km.
  • 1st Brisbane Road Runners 10km Championships.
  • 10th in age category at the Gold Coast Half Marathon (national bronze medal winner with the Queensland team).
  • 2nd Park2Park 10km.
  • 4th overall (1st in age group) Brisbane Running Festival Half Marathon.
  • 34th overall (out of 80,000) at the Sydney City2Surf.
  • 1st Brisbane Road Runners Robin Flowers Championships 10 mile.

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