Meet ‘Marathon’ Matt, Founder of Run Club

We can’t think of a better person to lead the charge for Run Club in San Francisco — especially with a name like ‘Marathon Matt’.

We catch up with Matt, a fixture in the San Francisco running community for more than a decade. His run club has helped thousands of runners conquer their first half marathon, post personal bests, make tons of new friends, and even catalyze a few love connections (#fortheloveofrunning indeed)!

Read on for the lowdown on Matt and Run Club, which Matt describes as a social club with a running problem.

Hey Matt! How do you spend your days when not running?

With a moniker like ‘Marathon Matt’ you would expect that I’m running ALL THE TIME. Please feel free to perpetuate this myth. The truth is I’m lucky most days if I can carve out an hour to get some miles in.

When I’m not running, I’m usually helping others with their running. I have personal clients I help train for 5K’s, 10Ks, half marathons, etc. Run Club typically includes 75–100 people per season, so there’s always work to be done to keep things running smoothly. I also have a number of corporate running programs I manage.

Lastly, I produce my own races — you can check it out here.

How did you start running?

I was a soccer player as a kid. I always loved sprinting up and down the field. So, I suppose I was always a ‘runner’ to some degree.

But, by the end of my freshman year of high school, my passion for soccer waned. The school I attended only offered ‘3’ sports in the fall-soccer, football, and cross-country. I was burned out on soccer and had no illusions I was a football player.

Cross-country was the only other option for me. So, I ‘officially’ became a runner.

How did Run Club come into existence?

It came into existence in much the same way that I became a runner. It wasn’t anything I planned on doing. It just kind of happened.

A friend of mine was doing some marketing work for Fleet Feet Sports. They wanted to launch a half marathon training program and they reached out to me to lead it. I was initially skeptical.

There were already tons of great, well-established clubs in existence. I didn’t necessarily think we could attract many runners. I was wrong.

The first season we saw 30 people. The following season we saw 75. We were off and running….so to speak.

More than a decade later, Run Club still sees an awesome mix of new, experienced, young, and old runners every season. Run Club was a happy accident in many respects.

What does Run Club as a crew stand for?

I often describe Run Club as a ‘social club with a running problem’. We’re NOT a serious, competitive crew. We’re a social bunch that loves to run 2–3 times/week.

Each season generally revolves around training for one or more half marathons. I focus on this distance because it’s ‘lifestyle friendly’ and I see far fewer aggravations/injuries training for this distance. So, you can run with us a few times/week and still have time for happy hours, dinners, or other social functions.

Speaking of which, we really try to foster community within Run Club by hosting post run team dinners, periodic team happy hours, karaoke nights, and more. I know many of the people who join Run Club are not doing it ‘just’ for the running.

BTW, the fall season of Run Club gets started on Sat, August 19th if you want to roll with us!

What’s the best thing about running?

Running slows the aging process? Running catalyzes brain cell growth? Running makes you sexier? The elusive runner’s high?

It’s hard to nail down ‘the’ best thing about running. But, if you’re going to pin me down, I’d say it’s the way running brings people together.

While we’re more ‘connected’ than ever via technology/social media, I think we’re more ‘disconnected’ than ever. I think people crave actual connection and running can provide this.

I’ve been witness to so many connections over the years and I think ultimately this is the best thing about running. Running connects people.

Where’s your ideal place to run or dream race?

My ideal place to run is the Marin Headlands. There’s a famous (infamous?) route called ‘the ninja loop’ that entails 11.5 miles with 2,000ish feet of climbing. It’s a tough run no matter what kind of shape you’re in.

But, there’s staggering beauty that accompanies this beast of a run. There are multiple views that just take your breath away and never fail to inspire.

I don’t consider myself a religious person. But, running this route is my version of going to church. No matter what kind of space I’m in, I always feel better after completing the ninja loop.

What meaning does running have in your life?

Given my adopted name of ‘Marathon Matt’, I’d say running is a huge part of who I am.

Running calms me when I’m feeling out of sorts. It buoys my spirits when I’m struggling to find hope. It’s a salve for all kinds of wounds.

Ultimately, I feel like I’m the best version of myself when I’m running.

Where do you see Run Club in five years?

I see Run Club continuing to turn people onto running, helping people achieve their running goals, and most importantly, serving as a catalyst for connecting and bringing people together.