September 03, 2019 5 min read

Meet Matthew Melling, or "the Wigan Runner," as he is known around the world. He has maintained a formidable run streak since 2017 and uses his passion for running to raise money for charities. He has run all over the world, in a wide variety or conditions, and does not plan on stopping any time soon! Here is his story, told to Run The Edge in March, 2019:

   

      "So, my running journey and streak started on the 1st of January 2017. I woke up in the morning and decided I wanted to challenge myself to run every day in January, 5K or more. At the time, it was a challenge I set myself. I didn't know if I would keep to it, complete it, or even be able to do it at all. I got a bit more than halfway through the month. Going through the pain, the stress on my body that I wasn't used to... I started to believe it was possible! I made a decision to go through the pain and continue towards my goal. When I got to day 30 someone who I worked with at the time bet me that I couldn't get to 50 days! That then became my next goal. After I achieved 50 days, I went on to reach 250! My body hurt so much at first, that I had to take painkillers just to keep going. I then found a new motivation with a charity who asked me if I would continue to run for them, and help them raise money for a van that would provide food and clothing for the homeless. Once I had a purpose, I threw myself into the challenge and it felt easier.

             When I was running one night before going to work, I felt something hit my back and I thought I was being attacked then I saw a car go past with a man laughing and shouting getting back inside the window. I felt my back and realised I had been egged. I took a photograph showed it on social media, and the post went viral. Lots of people were asking why I was running everyday, so I shared my story, and decided to make my own page. I couldn't think of what to call it, but I wanted to create something different than my own profile. Decided to call myself the “Wigan Runner” since Wigan, New England is a very special place to me. To this date, I have run in 20 countries in total, and often get invited to runs around Europe, which is very humbling. To name a few of the countries I have run in: Iceland in -18 degrees, Thailand in the sweltering heat, New Zealand (Queenstown through the forest, very special place), Gdansk, Poland, a place that I very much enjoy. Germany, Bruges, Belgium, America (New York, Orlando, Miami Beach), Kiev and Kharkiv in Ukraine. I have run in Chernobyl, Ukraine and I believe I'm the only person to have done that since the nuclear disaster. Also in Europe: Greece, Spain, Hungary, Budapest, Bulgaria, and Sofia where I currently am as I write this message. All special places to run in for different reasons, but I have to say above all my favourite place has to be in my hometown of Wigan or Queenstown New Zealand.

          I'm currently on day 812 of running 5 km or more everyday. Every run is different. The feelings are different everyday, but I really feel my body is used to the demands of running every day now. I don't fear running anymore. I don't feel that fear of the pain, not like I did at first. And when I think back, it was all worth it. It was worth the painkillers, the ibuprofen, to get through and be able to keep running. Don't get me wrong, from time to time I have injuries. My achilles and my knee on my left leg... there's always something not quite right there. I think, to be honest, I may have damaged that leg beyond repair and it will never fully heal, but it's been a sacrifice I've been willing to make to get this far. At this stage, I can say it's been worth it. Last week I ran a half marathon in Wigan for the third time and was able to complete this with my uncle Harry, who is a 98 year old war veteran: he defended the United Kingdom in the second World War. He's a very special man, and this was a very special moment for us both to share together, a moment that I will remember forever. We were very humbled to find that the BBC showed coverage of us on TV during the event, and the day after as well, which means we have something we can always look back on.

          It's very humbling to receive so many nice messages from people all over the world. I could never have imagined the encouragement and kind words that they send my may. For people to tell me that I have inspired them to run, or get into fitness, even exercise, and improve other aspects of life as well… It still makes me pinch myself to think someone actually feels that way because of me. At the same time it makes me realise how many good things we can all achieve together by inspiring each other in so many different walks of life. Remembering this really does help me everyday to keep running, especially if I'm tired, ill, or finding an excuse not to run.

          Through the Run The Year group, I found it very inspiring to hear other people’s stories, why they keep going, and what inspires them. We all inspire each other from all over the world with our own stories, and I would recommend that people follow the group if they're looking for tips on how to get into running.

         

I've helped raise over £20,000 for four different charities since the run streak began. I'm currently raising money for a submariners charity that helps ex submariners and war veterans after the service. I wanted to raise money for this charity and help my uncle, the one with whom I recently ran a half marathon, after he was attacked at his own home. I am raising money for the dodgeball team Wigan Dodgeball Warriors who represented Wigan and England at the Dodgeball World Cup in 2018 in New York. I've also raised money for Prostate Cancer UK through Movember on two occasions in The Streak oddballs Foundation which raises awareness of testicular cancer and, as mentioned before, helping the homeless Wigan, which helps homeless people on the streets.

          Being in the position that I found myself in– able to raise money for charities that help people around the UK and the world– makes me feel more empowered and responsible to do the best that I can and keep running everyday. We've all achieved such great things together, it inspires me to do more everyday for other people."


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