Your Name: Matthew Blackburn
Occupation: office fitter/site carpenter
Home Town: New Mills, High Peak
What is your running background?
In 2012 I needed a lifestyle change so decided to sign up for a marathon thinking “it can’t be that hard”, so I picked a hilly trail marathon (Wenlock Olympian Marathon) in summer. You can probably guess what happened next, I finished it. I’ve not looked back since.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
I started running ultras in 2015 after finally being content with my marathon time (sort of). After I ran my first marathon I watched a documentary on Youtube called ‘Running on the Sun’ about the Badwater Ultra. From the moment that film ended I knew if I was to carry on running, these are the races I want to be involved in.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I like road, trail, looped races so I don’t tend to compete at set events. You’re most likely to see me plodding around the peak district.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
My automatic qualifier for Spartathlon. In 2017 I didn’t get a lottery place so for me I felt I had a point to prove. I achieved it at Self –Transcendence 24 hour track race with 135.6 miles (just). Also other pleasing results were a win at Gower CTS, 2 podiums at 24 hour races. Top 20 finish Transylvania 100km.
What was your hardest race experience?
Blackburn 10km (first and only 10km).
What events do you have planned for 2018 up to Spartathlon? (Dates/name of key events)
Self-Transcendence Basel 24 Hour / May
Endure 24 Leeds (pairs) / June
KACR / July
And something hilly.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
Just keep moving forward. Don’t stop for too long. Do my best to focus on current mile rather than overall distance unless it’s a 24 hour race when there comes a point when time, speed, distance becomes a distant memory.
What does a typical training week look like?
My training weeks tend to be different on a weekly basis. I do what I can to fit around work. Doing manual work though the day I find that I can’t do as high mileage as I would like to through the week. But I’ll do bigger miles on the weekend. I try to use races as part of my training – stops me from being lazy.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Do it your way. We all run at different paces and are different sizes so what works for one person may not work for you. And when the lows come, be stubborn and keep fighting until the highs come back.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I’m quarter Jamaican. And I hated the road running training when I boxed.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Tackling the distance and conditions. Also standing on the start line with people from all around the world who you know have pushed themselves to the limit to stand there.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
Those tricky miles when they come. Because they always do.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
Stepping up my mileage to fit around the events listed above. A homemade heat chamber. And plenty of tarmac pounding.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race? (If so, please introduce them briefly)
Definitely, everybody wants an excuse for a holiday. My chief crew member my wife to be Vedrana will be leading the way, with my sister from the UK. And my mum and step dad will be coming over from the Czech Republic. Quite possibly some of my trusted motley crew from home maybe joining.