DENVER — Don’t look now, but the 2012 Olympics in London, England, are starting to pop up on the horizon.
For Fredericktown High School graduate and Colorado resident Matt Kempton, who is trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials, now is the time. He needs to run a marathon in a qualifying time to get a spot at the trials. That’s a little over 26 miles in a rip-roaring 2:20.
On Sept. 20, the 24-year-old Kempton will run in Berlin, Germany, in an attempt to qualify for the trials.
“I need some work but training is going real well for it right now,” said Kempton, who trains in the rarefied mountain air. “My plan is to run a real fast track this year at Berlin. If I don’t hit the qualifying standard this year, I can go back and do it again next year. It’s one of the fastest courses for the marathon. It’s a flat course and coming down from altitude should help me. It’s amazing when you go back down to lower altitudes. You get so used to not breathing up here.”
A runner for the Freddies in the early part of this decade, Kempton enjoyed a great deal of success as a two-miler and a cross country runner.
The All-Ohio runner was beset by an episode of heat stroke that cut through his senior year.
His former coach and friend Bob Geiger recalled that tough time.
“He, literally, never really recovered that season,” said Geiger. “He did run in the state cross country meet, he finished in the 30s and he was certainly fast enough but it certainly cost him a lot of his senior season. We had to really just baby him along.”
“I wouldn’t say it was life-changing,” said Kempton. “It was one of those things that wakes you up and allows you to understand what running is all about. It helped me in running as well as in life that, if you push hard, you are going to learn what are your constraints and what are your limits and learn how to adjust and adapt to them.”
He went on to Ohio Wesleyan and his running career blossomed, becoming NCAC Distance Runner of the Year as a freshman.
Now, as a personal trainer in living and running in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, Kempton finds the work meshes well with his running aspirations.
“It’s going real well,” said Kempton. “Denver is a running town. During the Denver Colfax Marathon, it’s amazing how many folks who come in (from out of town) talk to me for advice. It’s worked out real well for me. I pretty much have the greatest job in the world.”
His mother, Cathy Kempton took the first-place trophy in her age group at the Fredericktown Tomato festival five miler last year, so ability runs in the family.
“I’m really proud of her,” said Kempton of his mother. “She has come a long way in this. I like to watch how people’s lives can change through exercise. I would say that she is a much happier person than she has ever been in her life.”
If he doesn’t get to the trials this time, Kempton will keep trying for at least the next couple of Olympiads.
“I’m definitely in the best shape I’ve ever been in without question,” said Kempton. “In terms of volume, intensity volume. I’m in a good spot to do quite well.”