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Parkland graduate qualifies for U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

November 5th, 2015 |

November 4, 2015 | In The News

Written by The Morning Call

Matt Gillette set all kinds of records at both Parkland High School and Shippensburg University.

Gillette, a lanky long-distance runner with incredibly long legs, even for someone who stands 6-foot-5 as he does, reached a career goal last weekend.

The 24-year-old, who is back at Shippensburg as a graduate student, finished 16th overall at the Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon last Sunday in a time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 38 seconds.

More impressively, that time qualified him for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials that are being held in Los Angeles, beginning and ending near the Staples Center, on Feb. 13.

“That was my goal,” Gillette said when reached by phone Tuesday at Shippensburg. “I was shooting for 65 minutes, which was the standard, and anything under that would be great.”

Gillette, a six-time Division II All-American in track and cross country at Shippensburg, had been training in the Lehigh Valley for the past two years since receiving his undergraduate degree in marketing.

The Orefield native found out that the local atmosphere wasn’t improving his times, however.

“It wasn’t really stress,” Gillette said. “I was working every day, out of my college routine. It was tough going from four years of college and having the freedom to run, then to living at home again and working. I really wasn’t improving at all.

“I knew there was more in my running than I was showing. I felt the only way I could improve was to go back to school and train more.”

Gillette is working on an MBA at Shippensburg and is being coached by legendary Shipp coach Steve Spence, who earned a bronze medal in the marathon at the 1991 world championships and finished 12th at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.

“It’s pretty fun now,” Gillette said about being back at college and living a running lifestyle. “This is the life. I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be the past two years and I just felt like the life I lived as an undergrad placed less stress on me.”

Gillette is averaging 90-95 miles a week — more than he’s ever run in his life — and put in a couple of 100-mile weeks recently.

“My coach totally revamped what I used to do,” he said. “All of it is quality with a normal long run once a week, usually on a Sunday morning, around 20 miles. I work out [with weights] twice a week and run twice a day, basically morning and afternoon.”

Here’s the thing, though: Gillette’s first marathon will be the Olympic Trials. He’s only done two half marathons and zero marathons.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said.

The only other race on Gillette’s calendar before the Olympic Trials is the annual Run for the Diamonds 9-mile race in Berwick on Thanksgiving Day. He finished second there the past two years and is hoping this is his year to win it.

Trek bike demo day at Jacobsburg: Mark your calendars for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 15 because Trek Bicycle is holding a Trek Factory Demo Day from the site at 400 Belfast Road, Bushkill Township. You can try a variety of different Trek models free of charge during the demo day, led by local Trek rep Barrett Ladd.

Turkey Trot: Despite this week’s Indian summer weather, you know it’s going to get cold — maybe even very cold — in the next few weeks.

There’s still time to register for the 13th annual Historic Turkey Trot 5K & Fitness Walk in Bethlehem that takes off at 9 a.m. Nov. 28, just in time to work off Thanksgiving and leftovers.

The action starts from historic Colonial Industrial Quarter at 459 Old York Road, Bethlehem, and goes through the historic Moravian part of town.

Santa will be available for post-race photos, and registered runners will receive a long-sleeve Turkey Trot T-shirt, refreshments and free admission to the Historic Bethlehem museums and sites both Nov. 28 and 29.

To register, go online to

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