Posted by: Joe English | January 18, 2009

Ultrarunning: Josh Cox Sets new 50KM Road American Mark

Josh Cox sets 50KM AR

Josh Cox sets 50KM AR

PHOENIX — American marathon runner Josh Cox set a new 50KM Road record here today in conjunction with the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon. Cox was running a special 50KM (31.05 mile) course in hopes of establishing a new World or American record at the distance.

Although he fell short of a world record, he broke the American mark by over four minutes as he powered in at 2:47:17.

Cox ran the standard 26.2 mile marathon course with the elite field of the Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon. After crossing the finish line in ninth place in 2:20:32, he then headed onto the Arizona State University track to run 18 laps and bring the total distance to 31.05 miles.

Two days before the race, Cox had said that he was in “PR” shape and capable of running close to his personal best, which was a 2:13:55 effort that he ran at Chicago eight years ago. On race morning he gave thumbs up and said that he felt “great” before starting the race alongside the elite field.

Video: Cox crosses the finish-line

But problems set in during the first 20 miles of the race, as an upset stomach hindered his progress. He was forced to stop twice to use toilet facilities — once on the course and once just after crossing the marathon finish-line, but prior to making his way onto the track.

The stomach issues knocked him out of contention for the world mark, but he pushed through the final miles, clocking just 71 seconds in the last 400 meters (~4:45 minutes per mile) as he closed out his run.

Cox had hoped to elevate the sport of ultra-marathon running when he undertook the challenge to set a new mark at the 50KM distance. Few runners contest the 50KM distance on the road. By making the record attempt alongside — and part of — a major marathon, Cox had hoped to bring light to longer distance races.

Top American distance runner Katie McGregor, who was on hand at the finish, noted that “Josh is definitely leading the pack as more and more American distance runners try to push themselves to greater things.”

Video: post-race interview with Cox

After finishing, Cox told reporters on the track that although this day didn’t go off perfectly, he was in shape to break the world mark and would try again. “My legs felt fine, but I was having a hard time keeping fluids down,” said Cox. “It was tough out there, but the crowd support really helped, especially once I got going around the track. I was training such that even though it was an off day, I still got the American record.”

“Marathon is still my sport and 2012 is my goal,” added Cox, referring to the Olympic Games in London. “But like when running 50 miles helped my performance in college track, these types of efforts will hopefully help my marathon running. I’d love to come back again and try to lower my time.”

Additional exclusive videos and photos related to this story will be posted shortly.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News


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