Truth be told, Michael Uttley is not very fond of running.
Oh, a sprint down court in basketball is fine, and going the length of the football field is tolerable. But long distance? Forget it.
“I’ve never been a big fan of long distance running,” said Uttley, a 2006 grad of North Andover High, where he was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and lacrosse. “I find it hard and I don’t have much patience for it.”
So why is the 32-year-old Uttley signed up for the 2020 Boston Marathon, which has been postponed from April 20 to September 14? He’s competed in some short road races, but primarily 5Ks.
“My girlfriend (Annie Blanchette) ran the Marine Corps Marathon (in Washington, D.C.) last October and I went down to watch,” said Uttley, who lives in Haverhill and is a firefighter in Andover. “I was impressed ... I got inspired to do one, and I wanted to do Boston.”
Not having run a marathon before, Uttley knew that he would need to find a charity team to run for and, after a little research, he found the perfect one for him — the Last Call Foundation. He applied for a spot on their team and was accepted.
The Last Call Foundation, which was founded after the death of firefighter Michael Kennedy, has a mission of providing funding, education and research to advance the safety needs of firefighters.
“It’s a really important charity and it’s filling a real need,” said Uttley, who has already reached his goal of raising $10,000 in funds for Last Call. “I’m proud to run for them.”
Although he had doubts about running 26.2 miles, Uttley found the training not quite as difficult as he anticipated, thanks to being a member of the charity teams running group run by North Andover’s Susan Hurley.
“The training was actually pretty awesome,” said Uttley. “She sends out a training schedule to follow and we have the (long) training runs once a week that we do together. I got up to 17 miles and it went okay. I was supposed to do 20 but I missed that because of my schedule.”
Because being a firefighter involves 24-hour shifts, it can make following a regular running schedule difficult.
“It can be tough,” said Uttley, a UNH grad who majored in recreational management. “We have a treadmill at work and I’ll go on it for 6 to 8 miles before I go nuts.”
Now that the Boston Marathon has been postponed, Uttley says that he’ll take a break from training and just run a couple of times a week while returning more to his first loves of weight lifting and playing basketball.
“But I’ll get back to training with about three months to go (before the marathon),” said Uttley.
Whether he likes it or not.