Matt is an athlete who has competed in some of the most beautiful yet challenging races in the country. He talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.
Have you always been into sport?
I was always an active youngster, however I never excelled at anything, I just enjoyed playing sports and being physically active in whatever way possible. When I was younger, I was more of a team sports player, taking part in football, cricket and hockey amongst others
How did you first get into triathlon?
There were a couple of factors that got me into triathlon, the first was a corporate Triathlon at Eton Dorney in which my uncle's company had a team entered, and at the last minute one of the team pulled out and I got asked to step in and loved it.
Then in 2012, I missed out on tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games, so I decided to travel up to stand on the roadside to watch the triathlon, and was completely inspired by Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, as well as Javier Gomez who led the race.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
There have a been a few and for different reasons. Ben Nevis Triathlon which finishes with a run up Ben Nevis mountain, which is very special and something very different. I also really enjoyed the two SwimRun events I completed with my uncle; we just snuck on the podium at the Gower event, and the Buttermere event in the Lake District is insanely difficult but easily the most beautiful surroundings you could ever wish to race in. The one that stands out most, however, was probably the 2017 London Triathlon where I took the overall win over the Standard distance in 1 hour 58 minutes.
What is your proudest achievement?
Taking the win at London Triathlon is always going to be hard to beat, but due to the nature of the event you don't actually find your result out until much later in the day. So winning Mumbles Triathlon in 2018 was also a great moment, my first win at the middle distance in a really tough fought race. However I think my proudest moment was my 5th place at the Beachy Head Marathon, a distance that I had really struggled at previously. I managed to run through the field from 11th place at halfway to get into the top 5 and it's great finish line, coming down off the hills into the town with lots of family and friends watching.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
Never a disaster as such, but some tough races and some incidents. At my first Ben Nevis 'Braveheart' Triathlon, as I was descending the mountain, I took a fall and cut my head open. After getting patched up by the Mountain Rescue Team, who were very conveniently located just 100m away at the time, I decided to continue the race as I was still in 6th place and just managed to make 3rd place as I came into town.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I've been fairly lucky with injuries, so have had very few setbacks of that sort. However I'd say that I'm quite relaxed when things go wrong. I don't panic or worry, but concentrate on getting through whatever it might be. I'd also say that I'm good at processing what's really important, and I can often see a setback for what it is, an opportunity to learn, improve and come back stronger.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
The advice I'd give is to just enjoy the journey, and do it your own way. I've made amazing friends, seen some incredible places, and done some ridiculous things all through a mutual love of triathlon and endurance sport.
What are your goals?
I've found it difficult to set goals recently with all that's going on in the world. But longer term I'd like to step-up and give long distance triathlon racing a go, whether that's through Ironman, independent organisers or perhaps even the XTri series. I'd also like to represent GB at age-group level which is something that's not previously bothered me, however it would be great to pull a GB tri-suit or bib on. I had a qualification race lined up this year, so that will now have to wait until 2021. In recent years I have been increasingly more active in adventure racing and self-organised challenges with friends and family, and I'd like to maintain this as a healthy balance with racing.
Who inspires you?
The biggest inspiration is probably my wife Laura Gallagher (GB Trampolinist), she is the ultimate athlete, incredibly dedicated and it's inspirational seeing what is required to be a world-class athlete.
In Triathlon I love the way the Brownlee brothers' race, right on the limit leaving nothing in the tank. I've also really enjoyed watching the Norwegian's coming through in the past few years, especially Kristian Blummenfelt for exactly the same reasons.
Why work with Sundried?
I'm really excited to be associated with Sundried, I feel like my values are aligned with the company's ethos of providing high quality and long-lasting products and thus helping to eliminate the disposable fashion culture that has become so prominent. As a graduate in Environmental Management & Technology I'm particularly excited to see the use of sustainable materials and recycled materials in the clothing collections, and it is great to see Sundried holding themselves accountable by being audited by the Low Carbon Innovation Fund.