A stomach ache two-thirds of the way through yesterday's Gold Coast Marathon (GCM) may have derailed Shirlene Poon's target of a 4hr 30min finish, but it did little to diminish the experience of a first overseas marathon.
"I had yet to really experience running in a colder climate, so maybe that was part of the reason (for the stomach ache)," said the administrative executive, who took 5:50:20 to complete the 42.195km.
"The most enjoyable part of the run was definitely the crowd and the other runners... the crowd call your name and encourage you by telling you that you're doing a good job, and it's a very nice feeling."
She felt pain in her stomach at the 28km mark but refused to quit. She recalled: "I felt quite drained after that and there were times I had to slow down and walk.
"In the 40th km, I paused by the side and one of the runners, a lady in her 70s, gave me a pat on the back and said, 'There's 2km to go, you're not going to let that 2km get you, right?'.
"There were also people along the streets who offered runners gummy bears to keep us going... you get to feel the hospitality of the locals and it's very encouraging."
Poon, who will compete in the Sept 23 Straits Times Run, won a five-day, four-night all-expenses paid trip to run in the GCM. The contest was organised by ST and Tourism & Events Queensland.
She was one of at least 450 Singaporeans who ran in the 40th edition of the GCM. Others included national marathoner Soh Rui Yong, who took part in the half marathon, and Paralympian William Tan, the first Singaporean wheelchair racer to compete in the GCM.
Another Singaporean, civil servant Lim Han Chee, 50, participated in his 10th GCM, finishing in 3:24:40.
Completing a full marathon overseas was on Poon's bucket list and, having checked that off, she was looking forward to other activities in Australia.
She will go on a whale-watching cruise today, an activity that is part of the package that she won, and has also made plans to visit the heritage-listed Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
She will return to Singapore on Wednesday, the same day she turns 27. Her next races are the Shape Run next month and her maiden ST Run, where she will participate in the 18.45km category.
Despite falling ill during her race, Poon was thrilled with her GCM experience.
"I have no regrets because the tagline was 'run for the good times', and I had a pretty good time," she said. "The tummy ache was nothing much compared to the amazing experience I had throughout the run, and I'll definitely come back."