New marathon man strides to golden glory
THE gold medal hanging around Clay Dawson's neck erased any doubts he could be an exceptional marathon runner.
As he has done throughout his competitive running career, Dawson excelled in Sydney yesterday. The Rosewood State High School teacher completed his first marathon like a seasoned professional.
"He went unbelievable," coach and mentor Matt Casos said after watching Dawson win a team gold medal representing Queensland at the Australian Marathon Championships.
Dawson finished 13th overall in covering the journey in two hours, 32 minutes and 10 seconds.
The Ipswich runner was the fourth Australian home, just missing an individual medal behind the international competitors.
Dawson was the first Queenslander to finish.
"It was a massive surprise,'' Dawson, 32, said.
"It was pretty tough. Actually I sort of went out a lot quicker than what we had anticipated, which is always a danger on the first run.
"It just felt good.
"It was kind of weird where I felt that if I slowed down it would use up more energy.''
Casos, who has contested marathons in New York, Tokyo, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, was just as excited as the runner he has long encouraged.
"His preparation was really spot-on,'' said Casos, who rode his mountain bike around watching Dawson.
"Everything just went to plan.
"For his first marathon, for him to run 2:32, is just an outstanding effort.''
Dawson said he just "went with it", overcoming one bad patch.
"I hit the wall a little bit around the 32-33km mark, but then passed through it. With three k's to go, I was overtaking people.''
His team gold for Queensland in marathon came after winning a bronze at the Australian Half Marathon Championships.
Having previously won major 10km and half marathon races, Dawson hadn't expected to enter marathons at this stage.
He was delighted with his first attempt.
"It's incredible,'' Dawson said, feeling good except for some joint stiffness.
"I didn't think during the year that I would get a national medal at all.
"To get a bronze in July and to come and get a gold here is just ridiculous.
As for what his students might think, Dawson was modest as always.
"I still haven't really comprehended it myself actually,'' he said.