SYDNEY runner Matthew Cox set a new Port Macquarie Running Festival record in his half-marathon debut in the Hastings on Sunday.
Cox completed the 21-kilometre course in one hour, five minutes and 59 seconds, eclipsing the previous record of one hour, seven minutes and 30 seconds.
With sister Pip a Port Macquarie local, Cox had some local knowledge before he started the race having competed in the Park Run half a dozen times.
“It is pretty much a similar course and you just keep on going to her house,” he said.
“It’s very familiar and even though I’m not a local, I’ve done a bit of running along there and it’s a bit like my second home.
“There was a lot of crowd support as I was running along which was awesome and it keeps you going.”
It’s very familiar and even though I’m not a local, I’ve done a bit of running along there and it’s a bit like my second home.Matt Cox
The trip to Port Macquarie was in preparation for the London Marathon that he will compete in this year in April.
“This was a bit of a hit out to see where I was at leading into that,” Cox said.
“It was my personal best as well, so I was very happy with that and it’s a really good result leading into the London Marathon.
“All the training is paying off so it was pleasing to come here and compete in such a well-run event."
Cox said his win was based on gradual improvement.
“There’s no short cuts in athletics,” he said.
“There’s nowhere to hide and I’ve just joined a squad called Run Crew and the guy that won the 10-kilometre runs for them as well.
There’s no short cuts in athletics.Matt Cox
“It’s been a year I’ve been training with them and that has made such a huge difference to my performance.”
Before that, Cox was self-coaching.
“You can’t expect to run your best time off even a year’s training,” he said.
“It’s a decade or two decades worth of training that leads to this level of performance.”
When asked if he would return to defend his crowd in 12 months, Cox said he would consider it.
“If it doesn’t conflict with other major races then I’ll definitely be back,” he said.
“It’s a really good time of year in terms of there’s not too much racing on and it’s the first big event of the season.”
Race director Kevin Chilvers said it was an impressive effort from the Sydneysider who benefited from cool, overcast and occasionally showery conditions.
You can’t expect to run your best time off even a year’s training.Matt Cox
Cox finished third in the Melbourne marathon last year.
“The time that he did is world standard,” Chilvers said.
“It rained about 20 minutes into the half-marathon which made it nice and cool for the runners.”
Overall, more than 450 competitors took part in the half-marathon and over 2000 runners took on the half-marathon, 10-kilometre, five-kilometre or kids fun runs.
“Matt will be in a national final most of the time so we were really lucky to have him here,” Chilvers said.
Jack Colreavy won the Treble Breakwall Buster, while Harry Jones (five kilometre) and Matt Hudson (10 kilometre) took out their respective divisions.
Chilvers said Colreavy had previously represented Australia at the world marathon championships.
“We were really lucky to have two of the top five long distance runners in Australia here,” he said.