Just before 6pm this evening, local runner Scott Westcott rewrote the record books, setting new Australian records for the 25km and 30km distances. The event was hosted by the ‘Naked Runners’ Robbo and Mossy, and we think they may have been helped out by Doddy too, but no one is really sure as no one recognised him out of his running gear.
It was 33 years to the day since the previous records were set, by another local runner, Brian Morgan, on the 24th May 1980, on the same old blue athletics track in Newcastle. Brian ran 1:20:31.4 to claim the 25km record en route to the 30km record in 1:38:33.5, slicing 6 minutes off the previous record, which had stood for 16 years. The next year, Brian went on to win the Vancouver International Marathon in Canada, a race that I hope to run someday (Especially if I move back to Vancouver – The city that may rival Newcastle in being the ‘ Town of Runners’.)
At 4:20pm, Westcott began his run. Around one third of the way in, he was 8 seconds behind goal pace. But as the crowd watching grew bigger, and the cheers that went up as each lap was completed got louder, Scott got faster. Local legend and Wheelchair athlete Kurt Fearnley was also there, fresh from a victory in this year’s London Marathon. He gave an on-track demonstration for a few laps, careful to remain behind Westcott at all times. If he were to race in front of him it would have violated pacing regulations, rendering Westcott ineligible for the record.
The rain subsided, and Westcott stormed home to take the 25km record in 1:20:31 and the 30km record in 1:37:10
In Lieu of a medal or trophy, Westcott was presented with a piece of the track as a memento for his record-breaking efforts. He now looks forward to representing Australia at the IAAF world championships in Moscow later this year, and we look forward to watching him do it!