Each month Hunter Academy brings us a local Hunter athlete who has earned a lucrative seat on the plane to the 2016 Rio Olympics. This month's featured athlete is Newcastle's Scott Westcott, a marathon athlete who at the age of 40, will be the oldest Australian track and field athlete to make their Olympic debut when he competes in the event this August.
Running 42 kilometres is no small feat for any person, but Westcott makes it look effortless having run qualifying times for the 5000m and 10,000m race for the 2000 Sydney games, and marathon qualifying times for the Beijing and Athens Olympics in 2004, and 2008 respectively. Despite the qualifying times, Westcott was not selected by the AOC to compete on the Olympic team in those years, which served to make him stronger and more determined year after year.
After non-selection in 2008, Westcott got his hands dirty and got involved with the sport beyond training.
"I became an active coach with my own personal training group that is still going strong, I worked with Trevor Height as a scholarship coach at the Hunter Academy of Sport, and took up my role working for Athletics NSW and Little Athletics NSW, which continues to this day."
Last year Westcott celebrated his 40th birthday by flying to Germany and competing in the Berlin Marathon where he finished under the IAAF qualifying mark of 2:17, with a time of two hours, 15 minutes and 30 seconds... Then came the waiting game.
The Australian Marathon team for Rio was to be named in April but was postponed for an athlete appeal to the AOC.
The delay in the team announcement didn't dampen Westcott's spirits. Instead, he kept a quote from friend Lee Troop in mind, "He’s been waiting 16 years, what’s another two weeks?”
And those two weeks of waiting paid off when the team was announced, and Westcott's name was on that list in mid-May.
To prepare for his Olympic debut, Westcott keeps a very structured training plan.
"The week before a marathon I go on auto pilot from around five days out. I eat less and then three days before [the race] I go for the last little speed session to completely deplete my energy reserves, then hit the carbohydrates for the best part of three days. While it sounds like fun, by the end of it I am quite tired of eating so much."
It's this pre-event preparation that allows Westcott to remain focused throughout a race by starting out each run at a conservative pace, getting into forward pack during the middle stages and then finishing strong.
Recovery is just as important as the pre-event prep. "I am focussed on passive and active recovery like never before," adds Westcott.
"Interestingly I am using the Alter G treadmill at Grandstand Sports at the Junction for two to three recovery runs per week. I mix that in with massage/physiotherapy every week and try to take an ice bath after my weekly long run."
While running long distances may seem like a challenge for some, Westcott handles the distance in his stride.
"This is the beauty of running - it's my own time. Long runs don’t hurt, they are time spent in the great outdoors."
If you'd like to read more about Scott's journey as he prepares for the run of his life in the beautiful Rio de Janeiro this August, visit his 100-day journey blog at www.runnsw.com.au