Runner Profile: Matt Makin

Having dodged this last month, the Coalman has got me – cheers for the nomination Rob!

Early years and odd stabs at running

I’ve had a complex relationship with sport, and exercise in general, over the years.  As a child/adolescent I wasn’t averse to it, and can recall many a pleasant summer spending the day in the park having a kickabout with my mates, but the call of the video game console was also strong. 

I liked playing football but it wasn’t my forte; I did however end up playing Rugby as my already stocky frame was suited to the sport and the running was all in straight lines.  The idea of running for the sake of it always seemed odd to me and I often dreaded the PE lessons at Langley Avenue sports field where we’d end up having to run laps. 

After leaving school, the only running I ever attempted was the odd charity fun run, but beyond that my exercise exploits were more team based.

Getting into running and discovering parkrun

A little bit of backstory – in January 2017 I was diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes, at the tender age of 31.  There’s a history of it in my family but I’d never expected to be diagnosed so young, so as you can imagine it was a real shock to the system.  I’d also struggled a lot with weight in my adult life and was nearly 20 stone at the time of diagnosis, so in hindsight perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

I resolved to do something about my weight and fitness beyond the “Man v Fat” football programme I’d already been doing since the previous September and decided to give running a go.  Nothing too fancy at first, just donning an old pair of trainers (I shudder to think now the state they were in!) and some sports kit and plodding around the mean streets of Pinewood.

To my surprise, I was enjoying getting into running and I soon started making a regular habit of it.  Between that, MVF and making changes to my diet the weight started coming off and I started feeling a bit more adventurous. 

The Coalman, who’s been a friend of mine for a long time, had mentioned parkrun to me in the past and I’d signed up and printed a barcode, but had never felt brave enough to go.  So, it was to Rob’s great surprise on the morning of 13 May 2017 that I rocked up outside the cricket pavilion in Chantry Park to give this weekly, free, timed malarkey a go.  I finished my first event in a respectable 33:12 and even managed to run the whole distance, including the slog up Ipswich parkrun’s infamous “murder hill”. 

I fell in love with the event and the community and resolved to come back the following week.  I did, and the week after that, and the week after that, soon achieving regular sub-30 runs and making a lot of new friends, including quite a few that wore red hoodies…

The first race – Twilight 10K 2017

Soon, I began craving longer than 5km and an actual race.  I was convinced to enter the Ipswich Twilight 10K event as an unattached runner.  And so it was on a balmy summer evening I turned out to have a crack at a longer distance in race conditions.  This event sticks in the memory as I ended up getting to know FRR’s resident tall bloke, Justin Ostler, as he paced me around the course and spurred me on to a pleasantly surprising chip time of 58:32!  I had zero expectation of finishing in under an hour – the post-race beer at The Dove that evening tasted especially good!

Becoming a FRR

I carried on running, doing my weekly parkruns, and even decided to have a crack at half-marathon distance, running the Great East Run in 2017 to raise money for Macmillan in memory of my mother-in-law, who had sadly passed away from cancer the year before. 

Despite becoming friends with several Reds, I’d not taken the plunge and joined the club as I couldn’t make training on Tuesday nights.  I was soon disabused of the notion of mandatory attendance by Justin and so in September 2017, less than a year after deciding to give running “a try” I was joining a running club and getting an athlete number!

Best and worst races

My best race to date has to be the Ipswich Twilight 5K in 2018, the first under the new format separating it out from the 10km event and allowing mere mortals, like myself, to take part.  I remember it being a lovely spring day and there being a fantastic atmosphere around the waterfront as my wave lined up to make a start.  Something just felt right that day and I set off at a blistering pace that, to my surprise, I was able to maintain.  With 400m to go and being cheered on by the Harpers and the Solomons, I sprint-finished my way to a 25:16 finish – a distance PB which stands to this day. 

Honourable mentions also for the Colchester Half-Marathon, the first HM event where I felt I’d done the distance properly (having had to hobble the last 2.1 miles of GER with a dodgy knee) and of course the tinpot classic that is the Ipswich Summer Series at Christchurch Park – a horrible course only made bearable by its proximity to The Woolpack (don’t ask Gary how much a pint of Estrella is there!).

I’ve also had my fair share of stinkers over the last few years; the first ones that come to mind are the 2019 Martlesham 10K, where Justin had to drag a very hungover me out of my flat and to the start line, and the Hadleigh 10 in 2018 where I learnt the hard way about the importance of changing running footwear in good time when my foot blistered up and went bang, resulting in a Sunday trip to A&E!


Like it was for a fair few of us, my running and fitness took a bit of a nosedive during the pandemic and as a result I started becoming a bit disillusioned with running – a lack of club support definitely playing a part.  I’m pleased to say that the mojo came back in force in 2021 and I got right back into it – even getting back to sub-30 5km runs by the end of that year. 

I’m never going to be super speedy and at the front of the pack, but as long as I’m happy with where I am and have good people around me, that’s enough.  In that regard, joining FRR was hands down the best running-related decision I ever made.  I’ve made so many friends through the club, both at training and races, and learned so much (and not always implemented – sorry coaches!) about running in my time at the club.

Next month’s nominee

My nomination for May’s profile has to be Maria Riera-Turro!

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