TRAINING FOCUS: Art teacher Clay Dawson enjoys working with students at Rosewood State High when he’s not training or competing in major events.
TRAINING FOCUS: Art teacher Clay Dawson enjoys working with students at Rosewood State High when he’s not training or competing in major events. Rob Williams

Ipswich runner in cool form for Gold Coast medal bid

ROSEWOOD State High School teacher Clay Dawson senses snowboarding may be just what he needs after running his next marathon.

"The idea of ice on my legs will be, I reckon, a great idea," Dawson said, planning a New Zealand holiday after contesting the fast-approaching Gold Coast Marathon.

Knowing how taxing marathons are, Dawson is looking forward to hitting the snow for the first time in about four years ago.

However, running in his third marathon on July 6 will have added importance for the art teacher and popular regional athlete.

He'll be representing Queensland in a team also including another Ipswich achiever Al Stevenson.

"I've got a lot of really great guys, good mates in there," Dawson said, excited to be part of the six-member state combination.

"It all counts. In addition to this (team event), I literally could walk away with just my finisher's medal or I could potentially walk away with an Oceania medal, a state medal, a national medal and a team's medal.

"It could be quite lucrative but then, having said that, there's some awesome runners going."

That includes athletes the calibre of Olympic marathon runner Lee Troop, who will be representing Victoria.

"So that will be pretty special," Dawson said.

Dawson's running story is a remarkable one, having risen from a chubby youngster to elite athlete in recent years.

However, the Ipswich runner modestly takes every win in his stride, including his recent success at the Queensland half marathon at Doomben.

"I didn't expect that at all," he said, after his personal best run.

"I got third last year."

In recent events, he also came second over 10km in Bundaberg and won the Koala Run at Redlands over the same distance.

He'd previously placed in these events, showing his step up to marathon distances hadn't hurt his more regular racing program.

"I'm just chalking up a few runs. I've had a few good weeks," he said.

Dawson heads to the Gold Coast having hit the proverbial wall in his second marathon in Hobart (in January), where he courageously finished third.

That came after he placed 13th and shared in Queensland's team gold medal in a less draining marathon debut in Sydney last September.

"The mindset is, it's definitely a personal challenge,'' he said.

His latest marathon quest could see him achieve more personal and team goals along the scenic Gold Coast course.

And that's where the trip to Queenstown could be a fitting reward in the school holidays that follow.



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