On the Run with Matt McGowan

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On the Run with Matt McGowan

Written by by Jim Silcott, Reprinted from March 1989 on 23 September 2018.

Matt McGowan, a 31 year old full time business teacher/department chairman and coach at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus has had a lifelong interest in running. Matt first got involved with running in grade school in Wheeling, Illinois. In junior high, Matt ran the dashes. However, after his oldest brother, Bill, broke the Circleville High School 880 yard run record, Matt was moved up to that event.

Matt’s interest in running continued to develop while in high school. As a student at Ohio Northern University, he was a four year letter winner in Cross Country and Track. At Ohio Northern he was President of the Letterman’s Club and was a seven time NCAA National Qualifier in both cross country and track. While a graduate student at Miami University, he founded and coached the Women’s Cross Country program, where he worked with a number of eventual NCAA National qualifiers. He also worked with the Men’s Cross Country and Track program.

Although Matt’s work experience has been varied, he has never left his interest in running entirely behind. He has worked as a Promotional Representative for Converse and has managed an athletic shoe store. Now, as a teacher, he spends most of the year after school working with young men and women in the Cross Country and Track programs.

As a runner, Matt has had some outstanding success. Besides his varsity experience in college, Matt has a best Marathon time of two hours and 22 minutes and a 10km time of 29:45. He was the winner in the first Citizen Journal 10km run in Columbus under a hot 85 degree sun, and won the Glass City Marathon, only his fourth marathon race with a time of 2:27.

His proudest accomplishment was an impressive 33rd place finish in the 1980 Boston Marathon, where he failed to qualify for the Olympic Trials by only four seconds. As he remembers this important race, the weather was hot and sunny and Matt found himself in 175th place at the 10 mile mark. His eventual 33rd place finish remains one of his best personal recollections concerning his running career. In the 1982 Boston Marathon, he finished 53rd.

Matt has also been the race director of a number of road races in Ohio. He was the Coordinator of the Converse Midwest Express Racing Team for three years where seven runners qualified for the 1984 Olympic Trials and even had one runner on the 1984 team. He served as the Director and Host of the TAC Midwest Cross Country Championship in 1982-83 and has been an invited speaker at many health, running and sports clinics in the area.

Matt has a close “running relationship” with his younger brother, Jeff. Matt helped to coach Jeff to a second place finish in both the 1600 and 800 meter runs in the state high school competition. This past fall, in order to raise money for expensive treatment for Jeff who is battling Hodgkin’s Disease, Matt organized a race at the Circleville Pumpkin Show.

Matt hopes to make RUNOHIO a magazine which will serve all of the runners in the state.

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Ran numerous times under 15 minutes for the 5K and sub 30 minutes for the 10K.  Recorded a 46:14 for the 15K, 1:07:01 for the half marathon and ran 17 marathons with my first attempt at 2:51 and lowered it to 2:22:08 - 33rd (Jeff Galloway finished 4 seconds ahead of me) at a hot Boston Marathon.  Also, finished 53rd and 149th at Boston Marathon

Started the Miami University women's cross country club, with mostly runners recruited out of the residence halls and with no athletic money the team finished 4th four years in a row behind fully funded programs; Ohio State, Ohio University and Bowling Green.

Helped coach his younger brother and with communication with the high school coach - Jeff finished 3rd in the OHSAA Cross Country Championships (15:28), was second in the 800 meters (1:55.16) and 1600 meters (4:16.17) at the OHSAA State Championships.  He also ran sub 50 in the 400 meters, 9:48 in the 3,2000  and went on to run a road mile in 4:09.  When Jeff was fighting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma we started RUNOHIO 32 years ago.

RUNOHIO sponsored a post college women's cross country team with Ohio runners and in its first year won the USATF Club Cross Country Championships and would have won the following year if the number two runner ran (she wasn't able to attend the race due to a death in the family).  The team finished fifth in the Nation that year.

Have attended 40 plus years of OHSAA Cross Country & Track & Field Championships with RUNOHIO media credentials.  Attended seven of the past eight U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field. Over the years,  I have also become friends with many of the officials and athletes.  The top track & field photographer and I have been friends for over twenty years and  he allows me to use his pictures in RUNOHIO.

My brother and I roomed with 1964 1500 meters Olympic Gold medalist Bob Schul at the Sacramento U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field.  I worked with Bob back in the 1980s when I was the coordinator of the Converse Midwest Running Team.

Has been on the USATF Hall of Fame selection committee for eight years - helping pick Modern Day Athletes (been out of the sport for 25 year or less) Veteran Athletes (out of the sport 25 years or more) and Media/Coaches.

Serving my 32nd year of coaching the Bishop Watterson boys & girls cross country teams and  was a track & field coach for 30 years including a 7th and 4th place finishes in the OHSAA Track & Field Championships

Served as a race director for a number of races including the Arnold 5K, Arnold 5K Pump and Run, Circleville Classic 5 Miler, Jeff McGowan Memorial 5K, Crew 5K, Jingle Bell 5K and the Granville Summer Cross Country Series.

Presently I am not running due to a number of various health issues including a 95%  blockage of my right coronary artery and having three stents inserted in 2018.  In 2014 I was dead for a minute or so with 100% blockage on my circumflex and had another stent inserted.

"My goal as a coach of cross country is to always train and race the athletes smart based on their athletic abilities so they stay healthy, can run their best at the end of the season, want to run again the following year, enjoy the sport and hopefully continue running the rest of their lives" said McGowan

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