Passionate athlete once hated running

One foot after the other . . . Kaitangata local Matthew Barton finished second in the Aotearoa Ultra Marathon in Christchurch recently. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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From hating running to loving it, one athlete enjoys inspiring others into fitness.

Kaitangata man Matthew Barton recently ran the Aotearoa Ultra Marathon in Christchurch and was second of 16 entrants, but he has not always had a love for running.

‘‘I grew up not being much of a runner. I actually hated it, especially during rugby training. I always wanted to avoid it,’’ Barton said.

‘‘I just never enjoyed it.’’

Through his adult years and during the first Covid lockdown, Barton needed something to do. So he decided he would run.

‘‘I will say I don’t enjoy running on flat ground. I love running up hills and being on an incline.’’

Becoming obsessed with the idea of running long distance 21/2 hours on a weekday and 8-9 hours over a weekend, Barton stumbled across marathons online and entered.

‘‘My first ever 50km run I did three months training for it, and from that race the passion grew further and further so I didn’t stop,’’ he said.

He said he saw the opportunity for the Ultra Marathon and went straight for it.

Barton entered the 101km marathon and completed it in just under 14 hours, a target he made for himself while training for the marathon.

‘‘I had no music or anything in my ears. It was just the sound of my feet hitting the ground as I ran.

‘‘There were a few parts of the run where I had a bit of trouble, but I told myself to suck it up and managed to get through it.

‘‘My cousin, Regan, helped me out and was my pacer during some of my run. He was there to convince me to run when I didn’t want to.

‘‘At one point I ran by myself for 10 hours and didn’t see anyone, which let me think but you kind of run out of things to think about after 10 hours.’’

Barton said at first he was chuffed to be leading but after hiccups with tendonitis and bumps in the road, he focused on his target of completing the marathon under his time limit.

‘‘It was a good feeling to place second. I kept an eye on my watch and when it read I had run nearly 100km that’s when I had my fastest pace from the adrenaline.’’

His favourite part of running is getting others motivated to get out there and do it.

‘‘It’s been cool to see my family get involved as well when I started running. I enjoy motivating others even just a little bit, because although it sounds corny, you can do anything if you stick to it.’’

Barton hopes to run another marathon in December, but is using the year to spend quality time with his wife and 3-month-old daughter.