Sports of all types seem to be a background for many of our ultra runners in Australia, and Matthew Eckford from Wights Mountain, Qld shapes from one particular sport not many may have started out from.
The 38-year-old had competed in mixed martial arts and boxing for a number of years before trying his hand (or legs, so to speak) at running.
“Neck injuries sadly caused me to stop practising my sport, and I had to look for something else to do,” he explains.
“I’d always enjoyed running long distance instead of short, and so started in 2011 with the Gold Coast Marathon.
“I eventually found a coach in Martin Fryer and focused on 24-hour racing.”
Eckford reveals that just like the marathon, there is a universal race around in the world when it comes to a 24-hour event.
“Performances can be easily compared and measured, it’s such a simple yet complex race to master, making for a lifetime pursuit of the perfect race,” he says.
“My training is fairly simple; I run 200kms per week, except for the last two-week taper – split into 33.5kms per day single sessions, six days per week.
“I run for 14 minutes, walk for one minute.
“As the years have progressed, I’ve been able to slowly increase the run and walk speeds. My perfect training weeks will be at 4min/km run, 6min/km walk, which I should hit in 2019 when I think I’ll be at my peak.”
It should be duly noted that all of Eckford’s training is done at home in the garage on his treadmill, wearing minimalist shoes.
Now on the 2018 IAU 24hr Asia & Oceania Championship Aussie team, this will be Eckford’s third time racing in Taiwan and second time at Soochow.
“Soochow is my favourite 24-hour race in the world for its crowd atmosphere, host professionalism, and track facilities,” he says.
“I’m super proud to be representing Australia, love the team, and can’t wait to see what this training block will produce.
“In my personal opinion, running a 24-hour at Soochow is a bucket list race for any 24-hour track runner.”
Eckford will be racing alongside his Australian team mates at the 2018 IAU 24hr Asia and Oceania Championships in Chinese Taipei the weekend of December 1-2.
Pictured: Matthew Eckford. Photograph – Supplied.