Growing up as the brother of a talented athlete, Matt Roberts felt a sense of inferiority when his athletic accomplishments didn’t measure up.
Although Matt supported his brother Andrew every step of the way, Matt dropped out of Columbus North High School, where he had been a swimmer, and home-schooled his final two years. He turned to drug and alcohol abuse that led to a decade-long addiction that he almost didn’t survive.
Another decade after Matt was able to overcome his addiction, Andrew was preparing for his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2018. Matt decided to get serious about fitness and began a fitness journey as a way to bond with Andrew.
“I wanted to suffer along with him while he was deployed,” Matt said. “I started hitting the gym. I had a friend who was also in recovery, and he held me accountable.”
On Oct. 14, Matt, now 38, plans to run a 100 miles through the hills of northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky to help bring awareness to mental health and addiction recovery. The “No Business 100” begins and ends in Jamestown, Tennesssee.
Matt’s fitness journey began with lifting weights, getting up at 4:30 am some days to work out. He shared his progress with Andrew, who encouraged him to “keep going.”
In 2019, Matt began training for the Indianapolis 500 mini-marathon. He ran the 13.1-mile race that May.
“When I finished, I was immediately like, ‘I want more,’” he said.
So Matt signed up for the Mill Race Marathon and ran the 26.2-mile race that September. Since then, his runs have only gotten longer.
Matt ran 50-mile race in Brown County State Park in April 2020. He did a 100-mile race in April 2021 in Beijing, Illinois, taking about 37 hours to complete.
“I had no idea what I was made of,” he said.
In September 2021, Matt ran the Mill Race half marathon, then a month later, did the Knobstone 50K in Brown County. He ran a 50-mile race this April in Georgia and paced a runner for last 34 miles of a 100-mile race on Aug. 20 in Colorado.
Along the way, Matt has become connected through a friend with New Shoe Day, a non-profit organization and running community that focuses on positive mental health, creating connection and community while empowering people through movement.
New Shoe Day supports organizations such as Athlead Track and Field program, which seeks to promote community change by developing young athletes and leaders through track and field; and Indianapolis and Monumental Kids Movement, a track and field program that helps support kids’ mental health and running and physical fitness.
“It’s really kind of a mental health and running movement,” he said. “The funds that we raise, we align them with organizations that share our values of mental health and movement.”
Matt’s journey has led him a long way from when he went into a 12-step recovery program, detox at the former Faribanks Hospital in Indianapolis and a local Intensive Outpatient program called Steps of Addiction Recovery (SOAR).
“It took me a long time from there to kind of find fitness,” he said. “A lot of it was finding myself and learning how to be a productive member of society. From my junior year in high school to age 20 or 23, I didn’t do much growing up.”
Matt attended IUPUC and earned an MBA through Indiana University in 2011. He now is married with three kids and works for the consulting company “eimagine,” which is located on the northwest side of Indianapolis, although he has worked from home since the COVID pandemic began in 2020.
Now, Matt is in a happy place, both physically and mentally.
“I align both my passion for running and my passion for mental health,” he said.