Doing a full marathon overseas has been sitting high on administrative assistant Shirlene Poon's bucket list for the past seven years.
This year, the avid runner will finally cross that dream off her list as she has won a 5D/4N all-expenses paid trip to run in the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM) on July 1.
The Straits Times partnered Tourism & Events Queensland to send her to the GCM, an International Association of Athletics Federations Gold Label marathon now in its 40th year.
The top male and female local finishers in the ST Run's 18.45km category on Sept 23 will also each win a trip to next year's GCM.
Poon earned her slot with a Facebook post that was deemed the best in a contest last month for those who had signed up for the 18.45km.
It read: "Scenic, relatively flat route and cooling weather - GCAM fits the bill for a maiden overseas marathon for me after seven years of running local grounds. The thought of doing a full marathon sounds daunting but with the unwavering support from running friends and weekly group training, I decided to take my chances.
"2018 is a year of realisations for me as I venture out of my comfort zones. This year, I would love to test my mettle, transcend my limits at this IAAF Gold Label Race and to experience running in a different light (Complete within 5 hours)!"
The package, worth about $2,000, is a timely birthday present for Poon, who turns 27 three days after the marathon. She will also enjoy a two-hour whale-watching cruise, a popular activity on the Gold Coast in the Australian winter.
"It's always been my dream to experience running in a different country and climate," said Poon, who clocks at least 10 half-marathons a year and will take part in her first ST Run in the 18.45km category. "A marathon is a great way to get to learn more about a different culture and meet runners from all over the world."
A WELCOME CHANGE
It has always been my dream to experience running in a different country and climate.
A marathon is a great way to get to learn more about a different culture and meet runners from all over the world.
SHIRLENE POON, winner of the ST Run-Gold Coast Marathon contest
She is looking forward to negotiating the GCM's scenic route, that takes participants along Surfers Paradise, one of the most famous beaches in the world.
"I've heard a lot about the GCM and I'm really looking forward to the great views," said Poon, who runs 10km to 15km thrice a week. "It is also a fast and flat route so I am aiming to go under five hours."
The 2016 Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore was the only time she had gone the full 42.195km and she did that in under six hours.
Tourism & Events Queensland international director Lim Mui Khim said: "It's great that this is her first overseas marathon, the GCM is very popular among runners.
"The weather will be great and I'm sure she will get to meet other Singaporean runners there as well."
This year's ST Run at the Singapore Sports Hub comprises three categories - 18.45km, 10km and 5km. The registration fee for each is $70, $60 and $50 respectively. Past participants enjoy a loyalty rate of $58, $48 and $38 respectively.
The build-up to the run will feature a range of activities: Participants can ramp up their fitness during a CrossFit class at Innervate Fitness on June 17, a cardio three-way session at TripleFit Millenia Walk on July 22, and a 15km sunset run on Aug 18.
• To sign up for the ST Run, go to www.straitstimesrun.com