MEMBER: Matthew Ferry
Name: Matthew Ferry
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
High School: Science Leadership Academy
College: Undergrad: Dickinson College; Grad: University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education
Occupation: Grad Student
Favorite Place to Run in Philly: Fairmount Trails
5k (Track): 15:38
5k (XC): 16:36
8k (XC): 26:22
By: Kevin Brandon (10/22/18)
Matt, thanks for taking some time to speak with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in Philadelphia and running with PRTC?
I’m actually Center City born and raised, which surprises a lot of people. What surprises them more than that is I’m also a product of Philly public schools, which generally speaking, aren’t great. I guess what brought me back to Philly after graduating and then working in Jordan for a year had been grad school. I applied to a few different programs to study international development and policy, and it came down to Penn and Tufts. Penn turned out being the better option of the two, so I decided to come home for a yearlong master’s program.
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
I was pretty husky as a young teen and wanted to lose weight. I heard of Students Run Philly Style (SRPS) and how it trains kids to run marathons, and signed up with the intention of doing just that. Through SRPS I ran the November 2010 Philly Marathon as a 16 year old in 4:08:54. I’m looking forward to the day I run a second marathon and cash in on at least a 75 minute PR.
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
My first run ever was along the Schuylkill Trail as a high school freshman in the dead of winter trying to keep up with the only two seniors on the track team. I did this not in running attire, but jeans and skate shoes. In HS I found a lot of success because Philly’s not an XC city. I qualified for states three years in a row with times of 19:26, 18:14, and 17:37 at Belmont. I made big jumps in college from being under-trained. I became too intense about training though, and really just burnt myself out by crushing all my runs and workouts. I got pretty sick my junior year and stuck with the mileage and wound up with some weird breathing issue that affected my running and led to a year of bad performance. By the time I found relief for that I was mentally burnt, and between finishing college then going to Jordan, had a 2 year lull where I wasn’t competitive. While in Jordan, on a whim signed up for a relay race from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, and prepping for that got me excited about running again and motivated me to join PRTC when I came home. It’s been great getting back into it at a more carefree pace.
Can you tell us about a favorite running accomplishment or moment?
Honestly, probably winning my district championship as a senior in high school. That was just one of those things for a long time I visualized myself doing while putting in what had then been the hardest training I had done. Winning that amidst mid-season training issues and incredibly close competition just meant a lot to me.
How about a not-so-great moment?
I bombed, with the exception of one 3k, every conference race I ever ran in college. I’m talking getting second to last in one race and DFL in another. I’d say those were definitely always pretty bad feels.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
I set a goal of running an official half and getting under 76 minutes. However, school and work became quite an undertaking, so now that’s on hold until next year, where most of my goals are. I’d like to see myself get back into sub-16 shape for 5k, get after sub-76 at a half in March, and finish the spring racing season with quick times at Broad St. and maybe a 5k at Swat. Perhaps giving a marathon another shot, although that depends on where I work next summer and feasibility of training.
You are one of several recent Dickinson athletes to join PRTC. How was it to race for Dickinson? Did you ever think you'd keep some of your same teammates post-college?
DCXCTF, for the most part, is one of the best groups of people I know. It was really pretty incredible to be able to train with, race with, and share in other experiences with my teammates, many of whom were close friends and roommates. I was a bit surprised honestly. I think most of my teammates, myself included, really burned ourselves out with competitive running and put it behind us. It’s been great to continue the sport with people who I became friends with through it.
I understand that before you settled in Philly, you spent a year in Jordan. What brought you there and how was the experience?
I had been teaching English there through Fulbright. I studied Arabic in college and while never formally studied the Middle East, it occupied a lot of my leisure reading. My studies in Arabic and the Middle East, along with my interest at the time to teach, led me to Fulbright. I really struggle to succinctly put what my time in Jordan had been like. It really had been a year with a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Being my first time living abroad, I also had a lot to learn. While I may not chose Jordan again, I definitely did enjoy living abroad and am excited about doing so again next summer.
Can you share with us what you are currently up to as a student?
I study International Development at Penn. It’s been a lot of qual/quant data work, project drafting, and reading. Long term goals are being worked out. Looking to stay stateside and join a UN organization or another large agency involved in development work. The program I’m in has an international internship component, where I have a lot of say in where and who I work with. I’ve been thinking more about location than organization, which is maybe concerning, but the thought of living in Paris, Beirut, or Hamburg next summer leaves me pretty excited.
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills, or talents we may enjoy hearing of?
I started painting while in Jordan, and while not good at it, it’s been an enjoyable outlet for stress relief. Looking to get back into that when I have more time.