Former TASS triathlete makes marathon breakthrough
We all heard about Josh Griffiths, the Swansea Harrier who burst onto the world stage with his brilliant performance at the London Marathon.
But finishing as the sixth fastest Brit that day, in 2hr 17min, was Matt Sharp; the modest 28-year-old making his marathon debut in style.
The former World Under-23 Triathlon Champion now has his sights set on the Berlin Marathon in September – and securing the Commonwealth Games qualifying time.
“I really loved racing in London. The huge crowds from mile 1 right to the finish really give you a sense of how big of an event it is.
“I started fading at 25km so I was a bit disappointed with my time in the end, but I’m now working on improving my resilience ready for Berlin.”
So how did this talented triathlete make the transition into distance running?
Rewinding more than a decade to 2006, Sharp selected University of Bath for both his training and studies in Sport Performance due to its reputation as world class centre.
It was there that he also received valuable TASS support services to complement his training programme. He recalled:
“It’s really safe area around Bath for cycling and running and the relationship between coaches, support staff and lecturers was really good.
“We’d all have lunch in same place and you’d even see lecturers training in the gym alongside the athletes.”
Unfortunately a change of training centre and an injury later, Sharp ended up falling out of the sport, however the determined athlete decided to reinvent himself as a distance runner.
Returning home to the Isle of Wight, he focussed on road running for a mere 12 months before taking on his first marathon in London.
“As I’ve been in performance environment since school, it’s actually really nice to be isolated away from that. I like to keep my head down and get the training done.
“Running is different to triathlon; rather than going after a gold medal, it’s all about setting your time goal and meeting it. You can make a living without winning.”
The Asics-sponsored athlete was fortunate enough to travel out to Ethiopia for five weeks training during his marathon preparations.
“The hunger of the athletes out there is so impressive and their energy is contagious. They wake up at 3:30am and no one complains; they just give everything they’ve got.
“Runners like Kipchoge and Bekele are obviously heroes but I also really admire the pacers I met out in Ethiopia. They don’t get much of a look in or get the chance to travel. I showed them some pictures of snow!”
Back on the island, the dedicated runner is keeping himself busy in between the miles with other projects, including converting his outdoor brick shed into an altitude training room.
He’s also looking to find the time to tinker with old aeroplanes – a lifelong hobby – and hoping to take to the skies after saving up to get a pilot’s license.
It remains to be seen whether Sharp can make the 2hr 14min he needs to qualify for the Gold Coast. What’s for sure, however, is that this unassuming athlete will take it all his stride.