ALISON Coleman was greeted by her husband Harry with a smile and a cold beer when she finished her first Gold Coast Marathon 34 years ago - how times have changed.
The 65-year-old Hervey Bay woman is set to run into the record books when she returns to the streets of the Gold Coast this weekend.
In a staggering feat of mental attitude and spirit, the grandmother of six will become the first woman to complete the famous race 30 times, but only if she crosses the line.
"I'll finish it crawling if I have to," the member of the Fraser Coast Runners and Walkers club said.
"I will grow wings.
"It's a proud achievement, I'm so excited.
"My 20th (Gold Coast Marathon) I just ran to finish it and ran comfortably and just enjoyed it.
"This one will be even more special."
Coleman has travelled a long way since she first went for a jog with a friend to lose some weight.
Since making her marathon debut in 1980, she has churned out more than 100 successful marathons, running between 70 and 80km a week in training.
Most of her runs start well before sunrise, and on the coldest mornings she has her four-legged companion, Deeks - named after Australian marathon legend Robert De Castella - by her side.
"It's a big commitment," Coleman said.
"I'm blessed with a strong mental attitude and a body that can cope with it.
"I have always listened to my body because I've always believed you have to respect your body."
Contesting the 65-69 age group this year, Coleman is hoping to complete the 42.4km race in 4hr 30mins.
That time is a long way off her best mark of 2hr 56min she set in 1983 to finish second in the women's race - not that she worries about times nowadays.
The former Queensland representative knows her years of setting a cracking pace are behind her; just finishing is enough.
"There has been years I was nervous as hell and I would be feeling sick, but my real hard marathons are over because my PB days are long gone so I can enjoy it more," she said.
"The camaraderie of the runners and the positiveness is amazing, honestly, it's not an exaggeration.
"With all the races that are there, if you could harness that energy you would run the Gold Coast without electricity for a week."
As for whether this will be her last Gold Coast Marathon, Coleman says: "No way.
"I won't stop until the day my body can't cope with it."
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