Matt Hays

Describe your experience with the Equinox.  Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra?  How many times?

I ran the full marathon last year for the first time.  I didn’t do as well as I thought I’d do, but I finished it around 6 hours 15 minutes.  I lost both big toenails after the chute, and basically, ran/walked the rest of the way to the finish line.  I wanted to quit, but that would have felt worse.

When do you start training for this race?  How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training?  How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

I started running for the first time in my life while on vacation April 1, 2010, and I’ve been running ever since for stress relief.  I mainly do trail running with my dogs.  I hate running on the roads.  I was going to do the relay with my brother last year and for some odd reason, I wanted to do the whole thing, so I got a late start in training around July 2010.  We did up to an 18 mile run.  I ran the Dome numerous times.  

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Last  year, it was getting out and running the trails. I did more long distance running than hill-training or fartleks or intervals.  One thing I’m doing differently this year is running without my GPS and heart rate monitor.  It’s more relaxing, and there’s more freedom to just enjoy.  

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

Probably the people.  That was my first marathon, and I want to say it was my first race.  I’ve walked in the Midnight Sun Run… Talking with everybody in the race is my favorite part.

What’s your favorite part of the course? Your least favorite part?

Least favorite is Henderson Road and Goldhill Road.   I don’t like running on pavement with the cars.  It adds a lot of stress. I like being out on the trails, so my favorite is being out on any part of the Equinox that has trees.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race. Describe the worst.

It’s back to the people.  Last year, there was a guy around 80 years old and that Equinox was his 200th marathon, and he’s ran a marathon in every state twice.  There was a military guy with an 80 pound rucksack on, doing the ultra.  I was with him and talking about his experience.  

My feet actually grew over the summer, and I should have gotten bigger shoes.  I didn’t, and I paid the price by losing my toenails.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals?

I wouldn’t say I’m a competitive runner, not yet at least.  My main goal is to keep up with my older brother.  I just want to beat my time, and get faster.  It seems like a lot of these guys out here are seasoned runners; these older guys are out there kicking my butt.  It humbles me.  I know what to expect out there on the trails, and I want to beat my time from last year. Fitness goals are to stay in shape and get some relief from a job that’s sometimes stressful.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Just finish it no matter what.  If you have to walk, then walk or walk/run. Just hammer it out and finish it.  The reward will be worth more than the pain you’re going through.  My daughter was waiting for me at the finish, and I got to run with her and hold her hand coming up the hill through the finish line.  

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

Not really.  I was pretty well organized and knew what to drink and how often.  I didn’t necessarily hit the wall.  It was just the pain of my feet.  I should have gotten some proper shoes to run in.

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year? This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country!  What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?


Lack of common sense!  This is much more than just running a race, it’s something special. It’s a challenge, and I like to set a goal because it keeps me going.

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