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On the front foot with South Australia’s Riley Cocks … Junior Dash record holder, RunAsOne coach, athlete and 2022 ASICS Half Marathon contender

Winner of the 2010 Junior Dash and current record holder, Riley Cocks (12:29) has run his way through the ranks and will make his first half marathon assault on the Gold Coast this year.

We caught up with Riley to talk running, his inspiration, motivation and how he’s stuck at the sport for so long to now coach more than 300 athletes, with almost 80 heading to the Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon to compete.

INSPIRATION

Watching his older brother Jacob in Little Athletics U/6s it wasn’t long before the four-year-old joined him in training.

“I was very small for my age (still am) so never liked to walk anywhere and because I was so light my parents carried me between events, but once the gun went, I was pretty good.”

Also inspired by his dad who competed in marathon and ironman events Riley started out at Flinders Athletics Club, home to some of South Australia’s and the nation’s best distance runners. The family became hooked on the running culture and lifestyle and pretty soon Riley and Jacob quit their other passion AFL, to solely focus on running.

RECALLING MEMORIES

After casting his eye over the 2009 4km Junior Dash times 14-year-old Riley stood on the 2010 start line and thought he just might have a chance at rewriting the record books. Setting off at lightning speed from the slightly downhill start he wouldn’t let a painful stitch slow him down as he pushed through to the finish to set a record time that’s now more than a decade old.

“At such a young age it was amazing to be treated like an elite athlete with interviews and newspaper photographers and I got to stand on the podium in front of the big crowd – it was an amazing experience.”

MOTIVATION to MARATHON   

According to Riley the marathon is the pinnacle of distance running and whilst the training and majority of the race can be perfect, he concedes there’s always the challenge of making the distance and lots can go wrong.  His motivation comes from always trying to improve.

“I always feel quite strong in the middle of races but lack the finishing speed of others around my levels. Throughout my running career each time I have extended the distance my results have been more impressive so I hope I can continue that in the half marathon.”

GOAL after GOAL

“I want to be a runner for life. I want to experience running to its full capacity.”

When the time comes and Riley feels he can’t improve his times anymore he’s planning on switching to trail or ultra-running and may even have a tilt at the ironman like his dad. But in the meantime, the current South Australian half-marathon record holder is keen on setting a marathon record and representing Australia on the international sporting stage.

COACHING and CULTURE

Riley established RunasOne with his partner Izzi Batt-Doyle to draw on their elite experience and all they had learnt from being in high performance environments to help recreational and everyday runners. They committed to always have a presence at training and to build a community culture that has clearly underpinned their success.

“In two years, I have only missed two sessions due to away races and I know all 300+ runners, names, faces and most of their PBs off by heart – we are really invested.

“Working with runners of all levels is a constant reminder for me to keep practising the basics that have led me to an elite level.”

GOOD SPORT SUPPORT   

With more than 80 members of RunAsOne competing in Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon events, balancing his own race and ensuring support for his team could present quite the challenge. However, the camaraderie with other coaches and leaders from the group means they can share the load and Riley gets to have a bit of time to warm up and focus on himself.

“I like to smile and cheer on my athletes out on the course as we are running past one another. I think it helps me to relax and trick my brain away from focussing on the pain and fatigue. I get lots of positive feedback from them as well.”

WHY VILLAGE ROADSHOW THEME PARKS GOLD COAST MARATHON

Riley admits the depth of talent at the top end always makes for exciting races on the Gold Coast.

“I love getting away (from South Australia) in the depths of winter to the Gold Coast Marathon to get some sun and feel a bit of warmth, that is always the drawcard. The whole event has a great vibe with distances for everyone, it’s a real festival of running.”

Posted in elite, News.

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