THE mood in the temporary stands at the Broadwater Parklands was excited and upbeat as our little gaggle of journalists and other Team Scotland members waited for the winner of the Gold Coast marathon to arrive.

Sure, it was baking up here as the clock hit 10.30am local time, but we could tell from the large screen to the left of the start/finish straight that Scotland’s Callum Hawkins was making good on his pre-race potential and blowing the rest of the field away. With less than 2km to run, this peely-wally product of Kilbarchan had a lead of two minutes on the remainder of a field which had been decimated by the hot, humid conditions, being led by local Queenslander Michael Shelley.

As we know now, everything was about to take a dramatic turn for the worse. But for those minutes it all seemed to be running to plan, the Scot picking up a strategically-placed, freshly iced, baseball cap along with his water at every fuelling stop along the 26.2 miles.

A ninth-placed finish at the Rio Olympic marathon, then a fourth-placed finish at the World Championships at London, a first major medal and another world class performance would be another staging post for a young man who has the world at his feet.

The temperature was said to be 30 degrees in the shade as he began the gruelling drag of Sundale Bridge, the only problem being that there quite frankly wasn’t any whatsoever. But little did anyone suspect that stretch of Gold Coast highway was about to become the Scot’s own personal Highway to Hell.

The first sign of things going awry was when the 26-year-old appeared to miss a water station. Throwing his hat off, he started running all over the road, collapsing to the kerb for the first time on a right-hand turn. There were gasps at the finish line at that point, cheers when the Scot gamely picked himself up and kept running. This, of course, was misguided: while his lead at that point was so great that you wondered if he could have reached the finish line first if he had been able to simply walk in a straight line, everyone knows that getting up and keeping going at such a point is pretty much the worst thing you could do.

Clambering on to the railings across the bridge, it was when he crashed to the kerb for another time that you knew his race was run. While Shelley ran past without the merest hint of eye contact – some of the shine on the Australian's medal was taken off by vitriol on social media – it was time for Hawkins to be rushed to hospital, and for the recriminations began about whether it had taken too long for the medical treatment to arrive, let alone start at such a time in the day when temperatures were always likely to be hitting that peak.

Or so we thought. Because there was to be a stunning Scottish happy ending on such a fraught day for our athletics fraternity. Whilst all this drama was unfolding at the head of the race, Robbie Simpson – a man who cherishes such endurance fests like this – was prospering whilst others fell by the wayside. Finding himself in third place, this native of the North East had vowed to make the best of this opportunity, as much for his friend, who he saw lying in the road ahead of him. His achievement should not be forgotten in all this.

But the Hawkins affair quickly became a media storm, even after the news emerged of him sitting up in hospital and soon a picture of him back at the Team Scotland camp with his thumbs up. Forced to scrap his next marathon attempt in Japan recently, this wasn’t the year which Hawkins would have envisaged. You suspect it will only fire him on to conquer even greater heights in 2019.