It was meant to be the trip of a lifetime.
Years in the making, Bendigo marathon runner Steve Mallia was due to race in next month's 2020 Tokyo Marathon.
A successful run at Tokyo was not just another marathon to his name, it would have been the last on the list of the world's six major marathons.
Any athlete who completes them all receives a Six Star Finisher medallion.
However, due to the threat of coronavirus organisers of the marathon have scaled back this year's race for just top-level professional entries.
This has left approximately 38,0000 general entries without a start.
"That's 38,000 different stories and endless hours of training," Mallia said.
Mallia found out the news late on Monday night via email, what he read left him speechless.
"I just fell in a heap, my heart stopped and was just simply gutted," he said.
"All of the handwork during the hot Bendigo summer, and the last 12 months of training leading up to it.
"It's shattering. I'm still trying to get my head around it all.
"It doesn't really make sense for a country that's meant to be hosting the Olympic Games in five months time."
One of the biggest downsides to the situation was his family was going to be there on the finish line to celebrate his Six Star Finisher accomplishment.
They will still be going over to Japan for the holiday, but Mallia won't have the chance to fulfill his dream this year.
However, he has been granted automatic entry to the marathon in 2021.
The setback might be hard for Mallia to fathom now, but he knows it has only made him more determined than ever to run next year.
"I will definitely keep on going," he said.
"In life you get knocked down and then you need to get back up again.
"Between now and next year I will look for another marathon to help me get ready for Tokyo in March 2021."
Mallia began running marathons in 2012 after making significant changes to his lifestyle.
His love for long-distance running started with the Melbourne Marathon.
After that he was hooked and was determined to take it to the next level at the New York City Marathon in 2014.
One-by-one he knocked down each race, with just Tokyo left on the list.
Mallia's Major Marathon results
- 2014 NYC- 4:33:46
- 2016 London - 3:57:35
- 2017 Berlin - 3:42:14
- 2018 Boston - 4:02:54
- 2018 Chicago - 3:58:50
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