Slain cop and good mate remembered with half-marathons

Some of the Run with Matt group, which formed to run at events all over New Zealand in memory of...
Some of the Run with Matt group, which formed to run at events all over New Zealand in memory of Constable Matthew Hunt, killed while on duty in Auckland five months ago. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
His knee hates him and he has a stash of painkillers at the ready, but you get the feeling Sam Swaffield would crawl across the finish line of tomorrow’s Queenstown Marathon half marathon if he had to.

For him, and about 35 of his friends from Auckland, the 21km event is personal.

Mr Swaffield is a founding member of the Run with Matt group, created in memory of his best friend of 15 years, Constable Matthew Hunt, killed on duty in Massey five months ago.

The pair had started running during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and hatched a plan to do a half marathon to keep themselves motivated.

"We wanted to get out and see New Zealand ... I think we booked in Mount Maunganui first and then we went on to the running calendar website and thought, ‘oh, that one looks cool, let’s do that one’ and then it kind of just mushroomed."

Before they knew it, they had booked six half marathons in six months and were attempting to recruit others, such as their other best mate, Regan Green.

Sam Swaffield (left), with Regan Green (centre) and the late Constable Matthew Hunt.
Sam Swaffield (left), with Regan Green (centre) and the late Constable Matthew Hunt.
Then came tragedy.

At 10.37am on June 19, Const Hunt (28) and another officer were shot after trying to carry out a routine traffic stop.

Const Hunt was killed and his colleague was wounded.

Mr Swaffield said it had been easy to convince people to join Run with Matt.

The core group was joined by a mixture of others; some knew Const Hunt, some had been affected by his death, others were inspired to dust off their running shoes and some decided to take up running for the first time.

"For someone, a 5km run might be their big goal ... for others, it’ll be doing six half marathons in six months."

Everyone was buoyed by a similar cause.

They will be joined on the start lines by police from Queenstown and Cromwell tomorrow.

Senior Sergeant Steve Watt, of Queenstown, said one officer was doing the full marathon with friends, three others were doing the half marathon and two had signed up for the 10km event.

Mr Swaffield said the support for the group had been "amazing", and it was nice to have something positive to focus on in a challenging year.

The running posed challenges, too, given the "little injuries" that had been picked up on the way.

"My goal was to get faster and faster, now my goal’s just to finish them."

There would also be a marathon effort to finish all six halfs.

One of the early runs, in Mount Maunganui, had been postponed due to the recent restrictions in Auckland; the group would head north to complete that event next weekend, before the sixth half in Omaha the following weekend.

"Run with Matt allows us to remember Matt for Matt as a person, rather than the police officer who was killed.

"It’s important that we do continue that legacy for him in a positive way."

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