Published Friday 5 July 2019 at 10:36
Home is where the heart is and that’s certainly true for former England International distance runner Matt Wood.
The 32-year-old former QEGS Blackburn pupil organises sell-out race events at top venues right across the country.
Think the London Olympic Park, Hampton Court Palace, Media City, Tatton Park, Aintree Racecourse – they’re all on his very long list.
But, for Matt his newest event is a real labour of love – the Blackburn 10K!
And where better to start and finish than at his favourite football team’s ground – Ewood Park.
This is a dream for me,
said Matt who heads up RunThrough Events with business partner and former athletic rival Ben Green.
To be organising an event where I grew up pounding the streets is just fantastic.
It’ll be a great way to bring people together and really showcase Blackburn with Darwen.
I’ve been working really hard with the Council and with Blackburn Rovers and the fantastically passionate Jess Clegg at the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust to pull a really good event together.
Everyone has been so supportive of it and it’s the first time that a race will actually start and finish at Ewood Park – making it truly unique for the town.
For me, as a Rovers fan, it really doesn’t get better than that!
For Matt, running is in his blood – following in the footsteps of his dad Tony who is the President of the Blackburn Harriers and Athletic Club based at Witton Park.
As a kid I was taken to and ran every kind of running event you could think of,
Running is really part of who I am, and I am never going to be able to change that, nor would I want to, so to finally carve out an opportunity to bring a RunThrough event to my home town is something special.
We will try our best to make it a success and hopefully it can become an annual event for the area!
Matt, who grew up in Darwen, even incorporated his love for running with love for his now fiancé Lucy, as he proposed at the start line of one of his races with hundreds in the park watching on – there was even a choir there to make it all the more romantic!
As a youngster, he was proud to compete for England on numerous occasions over the 1500m distance while winning national titles at 800m too.
He also went on to be awarded a prestigious scholarship to study at Loughborough University – home to the British Athletics National Performance Institute.
But, sadly his professional career was cut short when he suffered a broken femur which resulted in surgery.
It was devastating at the time as competing at the highest level was all I’d ever dreamt of doing” Matt recalled.
But, organising the events has given me a new outlet enjoy the sport and I don’t want it to end this time!
Matt has linked in closely with the council to help plan a route that really makes the best of what Blackburn has to offer – taking some of the town’s best landmarks and incorporating the town centre – where Blackburn BID are looking forward to welcoming runners at cheers points.
I’m hoping the 10K will attract thousands of people – to actually take part and run and also turnout to watch
We’re organising more than 140 races a year, but for me this is a special one.
It’s open to runners of all abilities and there’ll be a great atmosphere as friends and family will be able to gather at the Blackburn End of the stadium and there’ll be entertainment right along the route and at the finish line in the event village.
People will also be able to use it as an opportunity to raise money for their own charities and funding will also go back to the Community Trust to support the amazing work they do with youngsters right across the area.
The Blackburn 10K will take place on Sunday, November 17 with an additional special kids’ race for under 10s later in the day.
The fast 10K route, with a 9:30am start time, starting at Ewood Park will take in Blackburn town centre before following a snaked route back to Ewood.
Community groups are encouraged to take part and members of the Blackburn Road Runners Club have already promised to be out in force.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, thanked Matt for arranging the race in the borough.
Many councils across the country have to pay to host events like these so we really do appreciate that Matt is planning such a fantastic 10K for us in our borough and we’re happy to support in whatever way we can.
It’ll bring thousands of people to the town and give us the opportunity to really show what we have to offer.
I hope residents will be inspired to pull on their running shoes and take part as it’s also a great way to get fit and enjoy the outdoors
Registration costs from £5 to £18 and there are 3,000 places up for grabs.
Entrants will get chipped time results, a unique, themed medal, free official event photos and goodies including fruit and flapjacks.