It’s the turn of MATT PYATT, one of the area’s most successful runners and founder of the Renegades, to answer Gavin Caney’s questions
Talk us through your earliest memories of running?
My earliest memories were running around the Hillcrest school field and overtaking the older boys, encouraged by my teacher Pete Corfield, who I am still in contact with.
I remember being trained by my dad on a bike down Downham airfield – he helped instill the hard work ethic, which still stands me in good stead today – and winning the inter-schools cross country at Stoke Ferry in 1988.
I ran every school track race and club ones for Ryston Juniors on grass pre-Lynnsport and ran in front of the Queen on opening day.
Is it fair to say football and beer took you away from the sport?
Yes, when you get to a certain age you can get led down other paths.
My choice was to carry on running solo or play football with my mates and have six pints of Kronenbourg in the Watlington Bowls Club after the game. At the time it was a very easy decision to make. When I stopped playing in my mid-20s the beer just kept flowing, watching my beloved (Manchester) United.
You always wonder how well I could have done if I had stuck at it, but maybe I wouldn’t be running now.
What sparked your return to running?
It was actually football and beer that led me to return to running. A smashed shoulder in Peterborough after drinking all day before a pre-season friendly and a trip to A&E made me change my ways. At 32 I joined the gym. After four months of exercise, and losing a bit of weight, I was able to run 20 minutes on the treadmill.
In February 2009 I ran 10K on the treadmill, which took an hour, and the next day I entered GEAR and ran 43 minutes in a plaster cast as I’d broken my hand a few days before.
How long did it take before you could be really competitive again?
It took me three years to get competitive again. In 2012, after a variety of injuries, including five months off with a stress fracture, and getting down to a weight level and enjoying an injury-free training block and weekly Parkruns, I was able to start flying again.
I was encouraged by several seasoned veterans who spotted something in me. A return to track racing again after 18 years away really kick-started me back into it. Winning the British Masters 800m was the big step forward.
There’s too many achievements to list – what’s been your favourite? A marathon personal best time in Berlin, some scarily fast times across shorter distances – maybe it’s something else?
It is very hard to pick a favourite personal achievement race wise as there’s been so many over so many distances.
So I will pick setting up the Renegades as my best personal achievement of bringing so many great people together – to form friendships and improve and enjoy running together regardless of age and ability.
Everyone can just run together and have a good time. It’s such a great feeling to see so many Renegade colours at junior/Parkrun and at races.
You set up Renegade Runners in 2017. Tell us why and how that’s evolved.
It was a six-week trial to try to help people improve in running who perhaps didn’t want to join a club.
The first week we had nine runners, the second week 10 and now we have a few hundred members. I never really intended for kids to run with us but that has taken off massively and has brought many families to our groups.
We have members from age four to 79 and it has grown way beyond my initial expectations. Whether you just want to have a walk, run 5K or an ultra, we have a place for everyone.
Why do you run and what do you love most about it?
I run because of how it makes me feel. If I run in the morning it sets me up for the day. If I don’t run I feel tired and lethargic.
I run to be around great people, whether it is to run with my wife, my son, my dad or anyone in the group, it always makes the day better and to be the best version of myself.
I think running does bring out the best in me, so I will run in some form for as long as I can, just like the late great Ron Hill did.
You’re 44 now but hitting some phenomenal times. After helping a lot of people achieve their goals by pacing, what are your goals for the rest of the year and next?
My own personal goals for this year is to continue to be injury-free and then aim for some achievable goals.
These will be a sub 16-minute 5K, a 33-minute 10K and 56 minutes for 10 miles. Next year I’ll maybe move up the distance again and have another pop at the marathon.
We’ll see how it goes but I’m pleased to be getting back to top form.
The facts are…
Name: Matt Pyatt
Date of birth: May 3, 1977
Birth place: King’s Lynn
Grew up in: Downham Market
Secondary School: Downham Market High
Former clubs: Dereham, Ryston Runners, Hunts and Fenland Running Club
Sporting hero: Bryan Robson
• Pyatt’s marathon and half marathon personal bests were both set abroad. They are two hours, 36 seconds (Berlin Marathon in 2015) and one hour, 13 minutes, 27 seconds (Prague Half Marathon in 2016).
• Matt loves travelling and is often told that he should have been a travel agent.
• The Renegade Runners founder rarely watches TV and normally listens to talkSport or Absolute Radio.
• Before running, the Walpole St Andrew speedster followed Manchester United both home and away.
• Matt is happiest when he’s running in sunglasses
• The Renegade Master, as he is often referred to by club pals, met his wife Lisa, also a keen and impressive runner, at Parkrun.
Restaurant or takeaway?
Film or series?
Bath or shower?
Tea or coffee?
Sweet or savoury?
Summer or winter?
Day or night?
Holiday or staycation?
Favourite food: Steak
Least favourite food: Sushi
Favourite TV programme: Match of the Day
Least favourite TV programme: Love Island
Favourite band/musician: The Stone Roses
Least favourite band/musician:
Favourite film: Scarface
Least favourite film: Carrie
Answers in italics