In the beginning …
During the late 1970’s, the Rotary Club started a 12 month long health and fitness initiative for the local community.
The name chosen for this clinic was “The Rotary Club of Surfers Paradise Central Marathon Clinic” and names Community Services Director “John Goldstein” as its foundation Chairman. As a marathon clinic was a totally new endeavour for any Rotary Club in Australia, assistance was requested from Dr. Jack Scaaf, advisor to the very successful Honolulu Marathon Clinic.
1979 – 1981
Entry requirements to join the new clinic were originally quite strict. Joining members had to have in their possession both a doctors referral from underlining recent health checks and a letter absolving the clinic and its new committee of any possible damages suit for injuries runners may develop during their participation in clinic activities. It was decided that the clinic would hold court in the band shell at MacIntosh Island, and it was here that the inaugural meeting of “The Rotary Club of Surfers Paradise Central Marathon Clinic” was held on April 30th, 1978. Within a few short months, there was on average 60 people attending the clinic on most Sundays and entry requirements were down.
Around April 1979, the Rotary Club stepped down and the clinic became know as the “Gold Coast Marathon Clinic”. The inaugural Presidency of the new committee was held jointly by John Goldstein and Dusty Lewis. It was around that time that it was determined by the members of the marathon clinic that they needed a marathon. So began the annual Gold Coast Marathon Run. The very first marathon took place in September 1979 and initially began as a community services project. It incorporated not only a half marathon but also a 7km fun run. The number of event participants far exceeded expectations in that there were almost 700 entrants in total. As the technical advisor, Dusty Lewis ran the marathon wearing Race Number one.
By 1982, there was a small, but regular advertisement in the local paper promising ‘get fit training with expert advice’. The advertisement also promised that if, when you joined the clinic, you could walk to the local dairy and back, under the guidance of the club, your time would be halved within one month. Although opinions vary, it is generally believed that it was somewhere over the next few years the clinic became known as ’The Gold Coast Runners Club’.
Around 1985, a new facet was added to the club in the production of our first 500km Charity Relay Run team. Twenty or so runners and their support crew would race approximately a dozen other teams over the distance of 500km on the back streets of South East Queensland. The clubs participation was initially organized by Ben Van Dorsselaer but continues strongly today. Gold Coast Runners have to date raised over $100 000 for the Spastic Welfare League and the Endeavour Foundation and are almost guaranteed to win the annual fund-raiser trophy for the 500km relay event.
By 1989, the marathon bug had well set into the club and fourteen of its members headed off to Honolulu for the first overseas club run. No longer was running just a health issue for some, it had become a way of life.
1990 – 1998
With the end of the 1980’s came the regeneration of the running boom in Australia. Geoff Stokes took on his first presidency in 1991 and promptly changed the club uniform from an attractive golden yellow and blue to the eye catching purple and fluorescent yellow that still stands today. By adding in the odd turkey trot, chalk race and triathlon to the Club calendar, Geoff had firmly cemented the social side of the Gold Coast Runners Club.
During all these years past, Dusty and Sheila Lewis had, with their strong army of mostly community volunteers, had kept the marathon still going strong. They had taken it from a community service to an international sporting event. Participation was in the 10 000’s and the event was attracting top world distance runners. By 1996, after much deliberation, Dusty and Sheila had sold the Gold Coast Marathon. Although the event is now owned by Queensland Events, the runners club is still in close alliance by way of volunteer organizers and features as the primary event on our annual running calendar.
1999 – Present
1999 brought with it major changes for the club when we moved our home base to Owen Park in Southport. With the continuing treat of the band shell being pulled down by the Council, the committee decided to share premises with the Gold Coast Band while still on the lookout for our own private premises.
2004 saw the Club in its very own premises at Deodar Park, Burleigh Waters and here it stayed for a number of years. Regular time trials were held from this location with the occasional run from the corner of 4th Avenue and the Esplanade, Burleigh Heads.
In 2011, it was decided to move permanantly to 4th Ave and relinquish the premises at Deodar Park, as it became too time consuming to look after – our committee and members wanted to run!
In 2012, due to lack of parking and wanting to become more prominent in the Burleigh Heads community the meeting point for our Sunday runs moved to Justins Park, Burleigh Heads. Here the club has enjoyed a resurgence in numbers as well as having a noticeable presence along the beautiful Burleigh Heads foreshore.